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Second Place On The Line In San Francisco

Nov. 2, 2006

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Briefly
The LMU men's soccer team will head to San Francisco to face the Dons on Sunday to wrap up the regular season. A win will give the Lions second place in the WCC, and solififies their case for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Gametracker will be available this weekend on www.LMULions.com.

Niemeyer Earns Academic Award
David Niemeyer was named to the ESPN The Magazine CoSIDA Academic All-District Team for the second straight year. The senior foward from Long Beach, CA will graduate a semester early with honors in Political Science. He has had an outstanding senior season with three goals and one assist. He was named the WCC Player of the Week and was named to the Harvard All-Tournament team.

Season Highlights
The 2006 season has seen its share of team and individual highlights. LMU heads into its final weekend of the season with a 9-7-2 record overall, and sits in second place in the WCC with a 5-4-2 record. Big wins include... a 1-0 win at then-#2 Connecticut to open the season. It marks the fifth straight year that LMU has defeated a top-10 opponent... a 2-1 win at #15 Santa Clara. It was the second straight year that LMU has defeated SCU at Buck Shaw Stadium... Bobby Burling has moved into second place in the LMU career assists chart, and will finish in the top 6 in career goals, assists and points... Trini Gomez and David Niemeyer were both named WCC Player of the Week.

Burling Climbs the Charts
With two assists against Saint Mary's, Bobby Burling now has 48 career points and sits in sole possession for fifth place on the career points list. In addition, he now has 18 career assists, good for a tie for second place 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.

Blanco Breaks Gaels' Heart Again
When Nick Blanco scored the game-winning goal in double overtime against Saint Mary's last weekend, it was the second time in three years that the Colorado native has broken the hearts of the Gael faithful. In 2004, the then-freshmen scored twice, including the game-winner in the 103rd minute to lead LMU to a 2-1 win on Senior Day.

About San Francisco
The Dons are 10-6-1 overall, and sit in fourth place in the WCC standings with a 5-5 record. USF will face San Diego (3rd place in the WCC) on Friday night before hosting LMU (2nd place) on Sunday afternoon. USF has lost three of its last four games, including a sweep in the Northwest last weekend. Aaron Chandler, the 2004 WCC Player of the Year, leads the way for the Dons with four goals and four assists this year, and Ardalan Attar has scored four goals with two assists in 2006. Geremy Uhl has a 0.86 GAA with six shutouts this season.

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, and another two assists against Saint Mary's. LMU is averaging over two goals per game over the last five games since Burling started playing forward. He now leads the team in scoring with four goals and five assists this year.

Looking Back
LMU gave the fans at Sullivan Field a thrill on Friday, scoring the game-winning goal with 72 seconds remaining in double overtime to defeat Saint Mary's 2-1. Junior Ybarra scored the game's first goal in the 57th minute with a hard shot from 45 yards out that pulled the net away from the goalpost. When it appeared that the Lions would walk away with the 1-0 win, the Gaels headed in the game-tying goal in the 89th minute. In overtime, the Lions had several outstanding opportunities but didn't convert until Nick Blanco's game winner at 108:48.

On Sunday, LMU honored the eight members of its senior class prior to the game, and used the emotions to open the game on fire. The Lions played extremely well, but the early goal elluded them. Santa Clara worked its way back into the game, and scored the first goal in the 69th minute. The Lions had their chances, but the Bronco defense held tough. Several LMU shots went wide of the goal, or were directly at the SCU goalkeeper for easy saves. Santa Clara added an insurance goal late in the game to hand the Lions the 2-0 Senior Day loss.

Ybarra Eyes WCC Record
With his assist 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 5th place in LMU history.

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.

Looking Ahead
The NCAA Tournament field is announced on Monday, November 6th. The Lions are hoping to hear their name called, and if they do, the first round games are on November 10th or 11th.

Keeping the Fans on their Toes
After 18 games this season, it's clear that the LMU men's soccer teams likes to keep its fans entertained. All but two games this season have been 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's Guardian
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.

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.

Lions All-Access
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.

Gametracker
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.

Toby's Take
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.