Oct. 25, 2006
The LMU men's soccer team wraps up its home schedule with a pair of huge conference games. The Lions sit in third place in the WCC, just three points behind the conference leader Santa Clara. LMU will host Saint Mary's on Friday afternoon before honoring its senior class prior to Sunday's game with the Broncos. Both games will be broadcast live and free on Lions All-Access and Gametracker will be available this weekend on www.LMULions.com.
Sunday Senior Celebration
LMU will honor the eight members of the Senior Class in a pregame ceremony before Sunday's game with Santa Clara. Every senior has played important minutes this year, and has been instrumental in LMU men's soccer's success over the last four years. Bobby Burling, Robert Flores, Matthew Mejia, David Niemeyer, Michael Ogletree, Diego Souza, Joe Stoakley and Junior Ybarra will play in their final regular season game at Sullivan Field.
Don't Arrive Late
Fans who arrive late to an LMU men's soccer game might miss a lot of the action, as the team has scored seven goals in the first 12 minutes of the last three games. LMU took a 3-0 lead in the 7th minute against USD, and all three goals in the 2-1 loss to Portland were scored in the first 23 minutes of the contest. The Lions jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the 7th minute of their 4-1 win over Gonzaga, and added a fourth goal in the 41st minute. There have been no second half goals in any of the last three games by either team.
Blanco Ties Assist Record
Nick Blanco registered three assists in the first seven minutes of LMU's 4-1 win over Gonzaga. This ties an LMU single game record for assists, previously set by three former players. The last time the mark was met was in 1999 when Eric Kim had three assists against Saint Mary's. For the weekend, Blanco had a goal and three assists in the split.
Burling Comes On Strong
After spending three years as a forward, Burling played central defense for the first 12 games of the year, and he shined. The defense allowed less than one goal per game after the first six games of WCC play. But the Lion offense struggled to get momentum going, so the coaching staff moved Burling back to his familiar position of forward for the second half of WCC play. That moved paid off, as Burling scored twice in the first eight minutes of the game to help lead LMU to a 3-2 win over USD. He added two assists in the 4-1 win over Gonzaga.
About Saint Mary's
The Gaels are 4-7-5 on the season, and 2-4-2 in WCC action. After opening conference action with wins over San Francisco and San Diego, the Gaels haven't won in the last six games. SMC registered ties against LMU and Santa Clara during that stretch. On Sunday, SMC suffered a 1-0 loss at San Francisco. Carlos Diaz and Matthew Fitzgerald lead the team in scoring with three goals and three assists this season. Dylan Leslie has scored four goals in 2006. Brian Mason has played a majority of the minutes and has a 1.07 GAA with two shutouts.
About Santa Clara
The Broncos are 9-3-4 overall and sit in first place in the WCC with a 5-1-2 record. Santa Clara is just one point ahead of San Francisco in the standings after defeating the Dons 1-0 on Friday night. SCU has not lost since the Lions handed them a 2-1 defeat at Buck Shaw Stadium on September 29th. The Broncos are 4-0-2 during that six game stretch. Peter Lowry and Keith Devey lead the team in scoring with four goals and one assist, and Jeff Cosgriff has four goals on the season. Joseph Buttitta has been outstanding in goal with a 0.79 GAA and six shutouts.
Welcome to the Jungle
The Lions have had great success against Santa Clara at Sullivan Field in recent years. LMU has won three straight WCC home games against the Broncos, with SCU ranked 6th or higher in each of those three games. In 2003, LMU defeated #6 SCU 3-0, in 2004, LMU topped #2 Santa Clara 4-0, and last season, the Lions defeated #5 Santa Clara 3-1. LMU has won three straight games over Santa Clara, and four of the last five overall.
The Last Time
This will be the second time that LMU will face Saint Mary's and Santa Clara this season. LMU recorded a 2-1 win at Buck Shaw Stadium in the first meeting, and battled to a 1-1 tie with the Gaels in Moraga. Diego Barrera and Jawaan Delaney scored in the win, and Diego Souza tied things up late in the game in the tie.
LMU managed a split on the road in the Northwest last weekend, falling to Portland 2-1 before rebounding with a decisive 4-1 win over Gonzaga. All three goals in the Portland game were scored in the first 23 minutes. UP took an early lead and Nick Blanco tied things up in the 12th minute. But the Pilots scored the game-winner in the 23rd minute and held off LMU for the win.
It was another quick start against Gonzaga, but this time it was LMU doing all of the scoring. The Lions scored three goals in the first seven minutes, the second time in three games that they took a 3-0 lead in the opening seven minutes. Nick Blanco assisted all three goals, with Brad Stisser scoring two of them. The Lions didn't let up, with Jawaan Delaney giving the team a 4-0 lead before halftime. GU scored late in the second half, but they wouldn't get any closer and the Lions stayed in the race for the WCC title with the win.
Ybarra Eyes WCC Record
With his assist in the game against Santa Clara, Junior Ybarra assisted on his 13th career WCC goal. He is one assist away from tying the career WCC record for assists in conference games. Ybarra has 16 career assists, tied for 4th place in LMU history.
Burling Climbs the Charts
With two assists against Gonzaga, Bobby Burling now has 46 career points and sits in sole possession for fifth place on the career points list. In addition, he now has 16 career assists, good for fourth all-time at LMU. He has 15 career goals, alone in sixth place all-time. Burling spent his first three years with the Lions at the forward position, and has split time at defense and forward this year.
LMU wraps up the regular season on the road, heading to San Francisco for a Sunday afternoon showdown with the Dons.
Keeping the Fans on their Toes
After 16 games this season, it's clear that the LMU men's soccer teams likes to keep its fans entertained. All but one game game this season was decided by a one goal margin or less. In fact, 1-0 has been the most popular score so far in 2006. The Lions played in six 1-0 games, going 2-4 in those contests. Finally, LMU broke the one goal differential with a 4-1 win over Gonzaga.
LMU volunteer assistant coach Peter Gail has an unusual side job. When not guiding Lions to victory, he works as an actor, appearing in several movies. Gail appears as "Danny Doran" in the movie "The Guardian" which opened on September 29th and stars Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner. Last year, Gail was "Doc John" in the movie "Jarhead" with Jamie Foxx and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Around the WCC
The conference race will head down to the final two weeks of the season. Four points separates first and fourth place. Santa Clara (17) holds a slim two point lead over second place USF (15), and LMU (14) sits three points behind SCU. San Diego (13) is close on LMU's heels. Gonzaga has 10 points, while Portland is one point back with nine. SMC is in seventh place with eight points.
Niemeyer Nabs Award
Senior David Niemeyer was named the WCC Player of the Week on September 4th. He scored his first goal of the season to give the Lions a 1-0 lead against Central Connecticut, and assisted on the game-winner against Marquette. It is the first career award for the forward and the second straight week that a Lion won the weekly award. It was a busy week for Niemeyer, who was also given the award for the male student-athlete with the highest Spring 2006 GPA. He received the award at LMU's annual Welcome Back Barbecue. The senior forward has three goals and one assist this season.
For another season, all of LMU's home games will be broadcast live on Lions All-Access at www.LMULions.com. For the first time, all broadcasts on All-Access will be available for FREE. Toby Kennedy will be bringing you all of the action from Sullivan Field.
Fans who aren't able to make the trek to Sullivan Field can still follow the action statistically on Gametracker. The live stats can be found at www.LMULions.com In addition, selected road games will also carry Gametracker. Check the LMU website for the complete schedule.
Gomez Wins Weekly Award
Trini Gomez was named the WCC Co-Player of the Week for his role in leading the Lions to the 1-0 win over then-#2 Connecticut. It is the first career WCC award for the junior midfielder from Inglewood, CA. In addition, Gomez was also named to the Soccer America and College Soccer News Teams of the Week. It is his first time earning those weekly honors as well.
Strength of Schedule
LMU's schedule is annually among the nation's toughest and this season proves to be no different. In addition to facing UCLA in a preseason exhibition, the Lions will play 10 games against teams that have been ranked in the top 25.
In addition to his responsibilities as the team manager and the Voice of the Lions on Lions All-Access, Toby Kennedy will also be writing a column on www.LMULions.com throughout the season. Keep checking back for Toby's take on the LMU men's soccer team.