Junior Maki Kono makes a run on the ball. The midfielder will be essential to the Lions’ success this season.

The LMU women’s soccer team began the 2019 season in unique fashion, taking a cross country road trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In their opening match of the season, the women fell to the University of Pittsburgh in a nine-goal thriller that finished with a final score of 5-4. The Lions saw four different goal-scorers between redshirt sophomore forward Simone Handy, senior defender/midfielder Ali King, redshirt junior midfielder/forward Jackie Fiacco and junior midfielder Maki Kono. Despite the high-scoring effort from the Lions, Pittsburgh outpaced LMU in the contest to earn the victory.

In the following game against Duquesne, the Lions trailed 1 to 0 in the final minute of regulation. On the cusp of a second consecutive defeat, the Lions were rewarded a 90th minute penalty which freshman midfielder Amber McCorckle buried to tie the game at one apiece. This score line would remain unchanged in the ensuing two periods of overtime, awarding the Lions a respectable 1-1 draw away from home.

This year, LMU was picked to finish eighth out of 10 WCC teams this season in the annual conference coaches’ poll.

In terms of roster change from last year, the women’s team will be without two of 2018’s top performers. Top scorer and All-WCC Second Team member Sarina Bolden graduated this past spring. The team will also be without last year’s senior defensive leader, Shelby Cormier, who played over 1,800 minutes in 2018 and earned an All-WCC Honorable Mention.

Last year’s lone All-WCC Freshman Team member, Jalyn Lupo, will look to improve on her debut season for the Lions. Lupo started 15 of the Lions’ 20 games as a freshman, also contributing two goals and two assists.

The Lions will continue their 2019 campaign this Thursday, August 29 with their home opener against San Jose State University at 7 p.m.

This past Saturday, the men’s soccer team began a fresh season with an exhibition match against the Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara. The Lions fell to their northern opponent, 1-0. Last season, the team opened strong with a victory over UC Riverside, 3-2, but went on to drop their next six matches. This put the Lions in a hole they were ultimately unable to crawl out of, as they finished with an overall record of 6-12.

In this year’s annual West Coast Conference (WCC) preseason coaches’ poll, the league’s head coaches predicted LMU as the least likely to win the conference title among the WCC’s eight teams.

From this season’s returners to the roster, the Lions will lean on a pair of sophomores to lead the team. Sophomore forward Jack Sauls and sophomore midfielder CJ Neville were the team’s second-and third-highest goal scorers last fall, with four and three, respectively. Their efforts in last year’s campaign earned them a spot on the WCC’s All-Freshman Team. Both will hope to successfully fill the shoes of 2018’s top scorer for the men’s team, forward Kris Fourcand, who left LMU in the offseason. The Lions will also be without top assist provider and All-WCC Second Team midfielder Antonia Porreco, who graduated last spring.

On defense, the program will turn to Gerardo Lopez to tighten up the back line. Last year, Lopez started 17 of 18 matches, recording 1,502 minutes on the pitch. The junior defender was named to this past season’s All-WCC Honorable Mention Team for his contribution to the Lions’ defense.

The men will open their season with a home game at Sullivan Field against the Virginia Tech Hokies on August 30 at 7 p.m.

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