When junior midfielder Bastien Oberli stepped into a free kick in the 31st minute of LMU’s match against Oral Roberts on Friday, Sept. 6, a lot was going through his mind.
He thought about a free kick he missed in the team’s match against Virginia Tech a week prior. He wanted to score for his parents, who were watching from the Sullivan Field stands. He felt the heat but was confident he could convert. Having played soccer for as long as he has, he knew what he was capable of in the moment.
Oberli hails from Neuchâtel, Switzerland, where he began playing at a young age. His father played at the semi-professional level and was friends with several pros. Through those connections, Oberli developed his love of the game.
“Since I stepped on the field for the first time, I just loved it,” he said. “I never stopped playing.”
In Switzerland, Oberli was shaped by a variety of soccer experiences. He played for the Academy team of Neuchâtel Xamax FCS in the Swiss Super League. He also played for the U15 and U17 Swiss National Teams, which gave him his favorite memories of his career.
“Playing for the national team was the biggest thing in my life,” Oberli said. “Playing for your country — that’s something big. Now I know how to handle the pressure.”
It wasn’t long before he had to choose between going pro and going to college. Playing soccer in the United States appealed to him and although he was aware it would be a challenge, he was willing to take it on.
“When I heard about college soccer, I was like, ‘Okay, let’s try it,’” he said. “I will go there. I will learn a new language. I will get a degree and, if I play well, maybe go and play pro.”
He was interested in attending LMU, but because he primarily speaks French, he needed to take an English test to determine which colleges he could go to. His score wasn’t high enough to get into LMU. After looking over his remaining options, he zeroed in on Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina.
“The coaches really wanted me and I think that was really important for me,” Oberli said. “Going to a new country, it was a new language. I needed to go somewhere I knew the coaches would like me and would play me.”
Over the course of his freshman and sophomore seasons, Oberli played in 34 matches for Campbell and registered three goals and nine assists. However, by the end of sophomore year, he felt that a shakeup was necessary. He wanted to get a change of scenery.
“I spent two years in North Carolina — that was interesting, that was good,” he said. “But I wanted to go to a big city and [also] maybe to a better school, soccer-wise.”
LMU met those qualifications and the Lions came back on Oberli’s radar once he entered the transfer portal. When the program learned of his interest, the coaches were excited. They watched video of him at Campbell and in Switzerland and believed he’d make a strong addition to the team.
“[We] really liked what he was doing,” said head coach Paul Krumpe. “[We] decided he was somebody we could definitely use.”
After Oberli arrived, he found the transition to a new school and integration into a new team to be easy. He bonded with many of the players, including senior midfielder Gaetan Roux and junior forward Francis Avoce, both of whom speak French. Now that he has settled into campus life and found a role within the Lion offense, Oberli couldn’t be happier with his decision.
“I think LMU is the perfect place for me,” he said. “Living in California is like a dream.”
In just his second game in California, Oberli stepped into that free kick, curved the ball past the Oral Roberts goalie and found the net. He celebrated with his teammates. His parents, who flew in from Switzerland, did the same in the bleachers. It was his first goal as a Lion. If his tenures in Switzerland and North Carolina are any indication, there is much more success to come.