1998 Men's Soccer PreviewLoyola Marymount men's soccer features some exciting changes in 1998. LMU gets under way this fall with an entirely new coaching staff, a strong group of returning players and deep pool of newcomers all aimed at a common goal, a winning season and making a run at the West Coast Conference crown. First year head coach Paul Krumpe brings his vast soccer experience to Sullivan Field this year with one goal in mind, keeping the program heading in a successful direction.
"We're not looking to turn a corner with the program," says Krumpe. "We are going to be looking towards a conference title from day one."
In a conference as evenly matched as the WCC, a first-place finish is attainable. Last year, LMU finished at 3-3 in the conference race, its best record in school history since beginning competition in the WCC in 1988. The Lions were also the only team to defeat eventual conference co-champions Santa Clara and Gonzaga who each finished with a 4-2 record. The time is right for LMU to emerge as a force in the West Coast Conference.
"I am pleasantly surprised with the amount of talent we have," Krumpe says. "We have an excellent mix of youth and experience that forms our core group of players. In addition, we have a group of newcomers that compliment our returners very well."
An overview of the team displays a solid foundation at goalkeeper and in the defensive backfield. The defense is the strongest, best organized area of the team, while the midfield is deep with a solid group of creative and quick players. The forward position remains virtually wide open as the season gets under way. Krumpe and his staff are looking for players to step forward and provide an offensive spark to the team.
Here is a closer look at how the Lions enter the 1998 season:
Returning in goal in 1998 is sophomore Jerad Bailey. Bailey had an impressive freshman year playing a total of 1245 minutes and posting 61 saves. At the completion of the 1997 season, Bailey tallied a goals against average of 1.59, breaking the school record of 1.66 GAA posted by Parker Schenken in 1987. His four shutouts put him just five away from the LMU career record of nine held by former goalie Chris Walter, brother of current LMU baseball catcher Scott Walter. Challenging Bailey's success in goal throughout 1998 will be freshmen Dan Sheridan and Franklyn Valcarso.
Although the Lions enter the season without 1997 leading scorers J.J. Rackleff and Barton Payne, LMU will find replacements among a strong corps of powerful forwards. Sophomores Robert Palikuca, (two goals, 28 shots) and Spencer Reeves (one goal, one assist and seven shots), will be LMU's most visible goal scoring threats. Sophomore Shunta Shimizu along with freshman Ryan Franks will be counted on to provide the offensive spark the Lions need. A strong offense will go a long way in determining just what this team will accomplish in 1998.
A new look on the sidelines
"I have assembled a young and aggressive staff that should help us not only to compete, but to succeed throughout the season," states Krumpe. "These are coaches who are not just about winning, but about teaching, helping, and most importantly, improving all of our players both on and off of the field."
"I view the WCC as the second toughest conference in the nation," Krumpe comments. "The only one out there that is tougher and deeper in talent is the Atlantic Coast Conference. Portland, Santa Clara, San Diego, San Francisco and Gonzaga are regularly ranked among the top 30 to 40 teams in the country. I am looking forward to the challenges we'll face on the field this season, and I know my team will be up to the task."
The 1998 schedule will challenge the Lions as they face top-10 powers UCLA, Indiana and Washington on the road. LMU hosts just three non-conference opponents including Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine and UNLV. WCC co-champion Gonzaga comes to town on November 6th and the season closes with the biggest game of the year at Santa Clara on November 15th.