Gabriella Marchal passes the ball upfield during a game at Sullivan Field last season. The Lions will return to competition on Sullivan this month after over a year long offseason.

It’s been over a year since the Lions of the women’s soccer team have kicked a competitive ball. They last took the field in the fall of 2019 — closing out last season with a game on the road against BYU in November. Now for the first time in 14 months, the Lions are preparing to compete on Sullivan Field once again.

As a fall sport, the women’s soccer team was impacted by the WCC’s decision to push the sports that regularly compete in autumn back to the spring. This change was announced in August, giving the women a large timeframe to build up fitness and prepare for their delayed season. Though they were not competing in the fall, the team was still regularly practicing and training on campus last semester.

The team is coming off a tough season which saw the University finish with a 4-12-3 record overall. The Lions accumulated a total of 10 points in their nine West Coast Conference games (WCC), placing them seventh in the conference out of 10.

The season concluded with then-head coach Michelle Myers resigning from her position as head of the program. Myers spent eight seasons at the helm of women’s soccer — accruing a final record of 63-74-20 as head coach. Notably, she was named WCC Head Coach of the Year in 2015.

The University then went to work filling Myers’ shoes, ultimately calling upon former Olympian and World Cup competitor Jenny Bindon. The former New Zealand keeper arrived at the Bluff from just up the freeway at UCLA where she served as an assistant soccer coach for three seasons. During her tenure with the nationally ranked Bruins, she helped lead the team to postseason appearances in each of her three years.

With a 14-month interlude between her appointment and first match day, Bindon will have had plenty of time to familiarize herself with her team before their first game together. Looking ahead to the season, the Lions are still poised as underdogs. This past week saw the WCC release its annual preseason coaches’ poll which projects each team’s ranking ahead of the season. The coaches collectively placed LMU in eighth, two spots from the bottom of the conference. Last season’s conference champs, BYU, were picked once again to claim the top spot of the WCC.

The Lions can find positives in the youth of their roster despite their low projected ranking. Much of the current squad is comprised of lowerclassmen — the team only features one outright senior in its entirety. This roster still has plenty of experience to garner and leverage further down the line to climb up the WCC.

Gabriella Marchal highlights the underclassmen of this squad. As a freshman in 2019, Marchal found success and steady playing time in the LMU defense. She started 17 of the Lions’ 19 matches, gathering over 1,400 minutes as a part of the school’s backline. Her efforts earned her recognition on the part of the WCC who named her to the conference’s 2019 All-Freshman team.

Looking ahead to the start of the upcoming season, the Lions will kick off with a pair of warmup scrimmages against Pepperdine and the University of San Diego, respectively. Following these, LMU will begin its season against California Baptist University at home on Feb. 13. It will be the only nonconference match the Lions will participate in this season.

After that, LMU will head straight into WCC play on the road against the University of Portland. It will be an unorthodox start to a year that has been anything but normal for this program and its fall counterparts. However, after over a year, the wait will finally be over for these players. They will once again have the opportunity to put on an LMU jersey and represent the University on the field.

Nick is a Junior AIMS major from Orange, California. He enjoys Mexican food, soccer, and dogs.

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