No. 7 Lions

The No. 7 Lions are a highly decorated team, both in individual honors and team prestige. 10 out of 29 players earned West Coast Conference recognition this season.

LMU is making another appearance in the College Cup, and this time they’re a trendy, dark horse candidate to win the whole thing. Barring an early exit, the men's soccer team has what it takes to bring a national championship back home, and I say that with no hyperbole. Either way, this piece will serve as a time capsule for whatever takes place in the coming weeks. The No. 7 Lions are officially penciled in for their first of (hopefully) five postseason matches, versus No. 17 Marquette University at 10 a.m. PST on Sunday, May 2.

Newly minted West Coast Conference (WCC) Coach of the Year Paul Krumpe had a few choice words when asked about his unit’s chances in North Carolina, where the tournament will be held. “The one major thing is that this is the best defensive group I’ve ever put on the field,” he said. “If you’re not giving up goals, you have a chance to win every game, and that’s where we are with this group.”

“It’s a building process,” Krumpe elaborated. “Last year, we got [postseason] experience, but we’re expecting much more out of ourselves. I think we’re a legitimate candidate to win the whole thing this year.”

The Lions are, undoubtably, talented enough to warrant such high praise. They own the nation’s best shutout percentage at 0.750, as well as a goal against average of 0.237, good for second in the country.

Fittingly, their roster is wildly talented, with players such as WCC Offensive Player of the Year Noel Caliskan and Goalkeeper of the Year Jacob Jackson headlining a group that had 10 players earn conference honors of some sort. Back line juggernaut Gerardo Lopez also claimed WCC Defender of the Year for the Lions. He’s a big reason as to why Jackson produced the third best save percentage in the nation at 0.900.

And it’s not like they’re going anywhere. “It’s pretty impressive for this group to do as well as they did, and we’re going to be able to return 28 of the 29 members of this time for the following year,” revealed Krumpe. “There is a lot of good coming through LMU soccer.”

In the meantime, there are very few concerns for the team to correct with stiff competition rapidly approaching. Some might point out that they are susceptible to being overwhelmed by an offensive powerhouse, to which Caliskan would reply: “We have one of the best back lines plus goalkeeper in the country. They just ball out week in and week out. Even if we concede goals, it’s not that big of a deal, to be honest.”

“We have up two goals this year, right? We won both of those games,” added Krumpe. “We had six shutouts, and we tied two of those games, 0-0. This is the best defensive group I have ever had in my 23 years I’ve been on this campus, no doubt.”

So how did coach Krumpe facilitate the kind of success the Lions are enjoying this season? He credits all to his players, of course, but also shared that: “Our second group is able and capable and can step on the field and make a difference. I tell these guys all the time, ‘College soccer is not about your starting 11, it’s about the guys that come off the bench and improve you.’ If you have substitutes that come in and the level lowers, that’s not a great team. We have substitutes that come off the bench and raise the level. I’ve coached a number of teams where that’s not the case.”

The LMU Lions’ reportedly selfless roster of 29 will be embarking on their postseason campaign in roughly a week’s time. Let’s hope that, given their talent and chemistry, they deliver the national championship that they’re capable of.

This is the opinion of Chris Benis, a sophomore marketing major from Seattle, Washington. Tweet comments to @LAloyolan or email comments to mthomas@theloyolan.com.

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