1998 Men's Soccer Preview
Loyola 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:
The key to any successful soccer squad is good defense, an area LMU has covered quite well. Krumpe will look to employ three defensive backs on a regular basis and has plenty of talent from which to choose. Leading the way are seniors Patrick Choate and Adam Stockman, sophomore Kevin Aeling and junior Jeffrey Ammerman. Choate brings the most experience to the field having started 15 of 16 games last season. Stockman, an All-WCC second-team selection last fall, has been named team captain for 1998 and will help anchor the Lions defense. Aeling could emerge as a dominating defender this season, while Ammerman, playing in his second varsity campaign, will vie for a starting slot. Challenging the incumbents will be newcomers Nick Resich and Mark Lackey. Krumpe also has the option of using senior midfielders Brad Myrand and Clemens Philippi as fullbacks. Overall this group is expected to be solid and organized. Though team members at this position may not attract your attention, the best defenders usually go unnoticed.
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.
The midfield position has a lot of depth and will be led by play-making sophomore Dan Chavarria. Joining him as set-up players are wide midfielders Jaret Asuncion, seniors Jon Tutrow and Richard Gutierrez, and freshman Claudio Basaez. Asuncion, a sophomore, had five points in 1997 (two goals and one assist) while playing in 14 games and starting in just two. Gutierrez, who started in 10 of 12 games for the Lions last season, and Tutrow, who saw playing time in each of his 13 games in 1997, will provide leadership in the midfield. Basaez, a creative and quick player, will provide depth and will be a difficult player to defend. LMU will also rely on central midfielders David Estrada and Gonzalo Bonilla to help set-up the offense. These two players, each with proven skill and unlimited potential, will compete for playing time. The Lions are sure to rely on their defensive strengths and abundance of talent in the midfield to ensure success this season.
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
Head Coach Paul Krumpe has brought a new look with him to the sidelines. This season the Lions welcome Brian Irvin, Jim San-Martin and Matt Mennell as the new men's soccer assistant coaches. Their task will be to mold 17 returning players with 11 fresh faces. The corps of newcomers will prove to be one of deepest and strongest recruiting classes in recent LMU history.
"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."
Krumpe's goal is to win a West Coast Conference title, plain and simple. After finishing just one game shy of sharing the conference crown in 1997, the Lions will look to surge forward for their first-ever WCC championship. A post-season bid is within reach for this team and LMU's schedule is tough enough to earn national accolades.
"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.