With a half-dozen or so MCLA games to choose from this weekend, I headed to Playa Vista to catch San Diego and Loyola Marymount. I was curious to see the Lions under first-year coach Mike Gvozden, the former Johns Hopkins goalie who took over from Craig Hochstadt in the offseason.
San Diego won 11-9, building a 9-4 lead after three, holding steady at 10-5 early in the fourth, then withstanding a late LMU rally to clinch the opener. Midfielder Aidan Kennedy, a freshman from La Jolla Country Day, led the Toreros with seven goals, showing both a strong dodge through traffic and a nice outside shot when given space.
More than anything, though, the game displayed the difference between a team with continuity and one that’s sort of starting over. San Diego looked like a team — disciplined, coordinated and with an idea of a game plan. The defense in particular looked sound — good communication, good movement, second slides always there. Until LMU picked up its intensity in the fourth, the USD defense was in control. Sophomore goalkeeper Derek Scozzafava from Poway made 8 saves.
LMU, on the other hand — with a new coach, only one senior on the roster and missing its four top scorers from last season — looked like a team just getting to know one another. I saw a lot of ill-advised shots early in possessions, guys attacking during “yellow” calls, silly penalties, dropped passes … you name it.
To me, those all are hallmarks of a group of players who don’t really know and trust each other yet, who aren’t sure of their roles, or where their teammates are going to be, or what the best play is in a given situation. That will come in time, because there is definitely talent. Gvozden has his work cut out for him to polish the rough edges and get everyone on the same page.
Next weekend, LMU faces USC at home. The Trojans are coming off a 12-10 opening loss at Occidental. San Diego makes another trip north next weekend to face UCLA in Westwood.
Elsewhere this weekend:
• USC fell 12-10 to Division II Occidental. The Trojans are playing an MCLA-sanctioned slate again after sitting out last year. Sophomore attack Cory Wizenberg, of Harvard-Westlake HS, had four goals and two assists for USC. Ryan Kreston, a sophomore attack from Pennsylvania, contributed three goals and an assist for the Trojans. Occidentals stats haven’t been uploaded as of this morning.
• Cal-State Fullerton lost 14-2 to Division I San Diego State, which got four goals from freshman attack Jack Vonarb, an All-American and Mission League MVP out of Crespi Carmelite in Encino last spring.
• CSU San Marcos got another big outing from Kyle Peterson in beating CSU Long Beach 17-9 in what is listed as a scrimmage. Peterson, an attack out of Huntington Beach, scored eight goals and had three assists. Last week he had 11 goals and six assists in a 25-2 win over Marymount-Palos Verdes.
• UC Irvine beat Marymount-Palos Verdes 13-4 behind four goals from sophomore Kyle Maresco and three goals and four assists from sophomore Martin Boyd.
• Channel Islands beat Cal Lutheran 16-5, though no stats have been posted for the Dolphins.