With its first match barely a week away, the Loyola Marymount women's soccer began practicing this week for the 2019 season, anxious to improve on a dismal 2018.

Despite a solid defense, the Lions finished 3-13-4 overall, 1-7-1 in West Coast Conference play, giving up only 33 goals in 20 matches but scoring just 21 goals themselves. Their leading scorer, Sabrina Bolden (6), has graduated, but several talented newcomers and 16 returning letter winners are shooting for a much more successful 2019.

Among the returnees are junior Maki Kono, last year’s second leading goal scorer (3), senior Ali King and sophomores Jalyn Lupo and Simone Handy, who tallied two goals apiece in 2018.

Also back is junior Olivia LaCasto, former four-time All-Trinity League star at Rosary Academy and a two-time letter winner at LMU. She is one of three local former Catholic high school players on the Lions’ 2019 squad, joining redshirt freshman Jordan Robinson, All-Mission League at Notre Dame HS in Sherman Oaks, and freshman Tatum Brakke, a star at Santa Margarita HS.

Head coach Michelle Myers returns for her eighth season at LMU. The 1984 grad of Rosary in Fullerton, where she earned All-Freeway League, All-Orange County and All-CIF honors in both soccer and softball, later starred at Santa Clara University and coached at Mater Dei in Santa Ana before coming to Westchester in 2012.

The Lions’ schedule begins Aug. 16 with an exhibition match at UCLA. Their official season openers are in Pittsburgh, Aug. 23 against Pitt and Aug. 25 against Duquesne, before they make their home debut against San Jose State Aug. 29, 7:30 p.m. at Sullivan Field.

LMU opens WCC play at home Oct. 5 against Pacific, and concludes the regular season Nov. 9 at BYU.

Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News).

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