1998 Season Preview
The key to any successful sports program centers on the foundation from which it is built. With the correct elements in place and careful molding, the makings of a winner are sure to follow.
Third-year head coach Gregg Murphy has taken those first steps along the path of establishing a winner, and has carefully formulated a program with a rock-solid foundation. More importantly, his team enters the 1998 season on the heels of an 11-8-0 finish in 1997, LMU's first winning season in school history. With 14 players returning and 11 new roster additions, Loyola Marymount should figure to add even more strength to its program as the new millennium approaches.
I began this job at LMU with a simple thought in mind, building a house, a soccer-house of sorts, says Murphy. My goal for the first year was to create a positive, challenging environment for the players I inherited, as well as to develop a foundation and a philosophy from which we would build. Our goal in the second year was simple - to win...and we did. Our 11-8-0 finish and top-10 regional ranking made it the first-ever winning season, and the best year ever in the history of the program.
All indications point toward success. Murphy's first recruiting class, the frame of the soccer-house, had a tremendous impact on the direction of the program. In his two seasons at LMU, Murphy has brought in what has been regarded as some of the best talent in the western region. Last year's success was achieved mainly on the heels of a much improved and cohesive defense, and an attack-minded freshman class. Murphy's attention this year centers on finishing with the best conference record in school history. LMU will hope to play well enough to make a run at the West Coast Conference title and earn a bid to the NCAA tournament.
Here's a look at how the Lions enter the 1998 campaign:
Up front, Loyola Marymount will be tough behind returning senior Jessica Lyon. Lyon started and played in all 19 games last year while leading the team with 41 shots on goal and eight assists. She led the team in scoring with 16 points and drilled two game-winning goals for LMU. Lyon, a 1997 honorable mention All-WCC pick, tied the school record with eight assists in a season and needs just one more to become the all-time leader on the LMU career assist charts. She will be expected to lead the scoring for the Lions in 1998, and will utilize teammates Angela Ichinose, Michelle Woiemberghe and Tammy Alderman to attack the net. Ichinose, who led the team with three game-winning goals last season (four goals off the bench) has the strongest shot on the team and will challenge for a starting spot as a sophomore. Woiemberghe will also vie for a starting role after scoring eight points of her own a year ago. She is best known for her composure on the ball and ability in the box. Alderman rounds out the forward spot and will provide leadership on the field this season. She is a versatile player who will also play in an attacking midfield role.
We play in one of the top two conference's in the country, says Murphy. Every game is a battle and we're looking forward to the challenges the season has to offer. We trained very hard in the spring knowing that we would face a very demanding schedule. We have a great bunch of kids returning along with an exciting recruiting class. I'm very excited to once again have the best year ever in the history of LMU soccer.
LMU hosts seven of its 12 non-conference games at home this year. The Lions open with Long Beach State who will compete at the NCAA level for the first time in school history. LMU then plays five of its next seven games at home, including a Sept. 27 match-up with USC. The Lions begin the month of October with four straight road games including a stop in Santa Clara (Oct. 9) for their WCC opener. LMU hosts just three of its seven conference games, and completes its conference slate with a two-game road swing at Gonzaga and Portland. LMU will finish the regular season at Cal State Fullerton, followed by a home meeting with the University of Denver. ng his transfer to the Los Angeles Air Force Base in 1997, Mennell volunteered as an assistant coach for the men's soccer teams at LA City College and La Salle Prepatory High School.