A year ago Loyola Marymount University's baseball team came on strong, ambushed several of the West's top programs and earned a trip to the College World Series.
The Lions started out the same way this year and were rated third in the country when they hit a mid-season slump. They also had trouble with West Coast Athletic Conference rival Pepperdine, losing all six games to the Waves.
Those results must have weighed heavily with the NCAA selection committee, which filled out the 48-team playoffs Monday without Loyola--surprising some school officials who felt the team's 36-21-1 record, fourth best on the West Coast, merited stronger consideration.
Loyola Coach Dave Snow, an adviser to the selection committee, said, "I felt going in I wouldn't be surprised either way. After reviewing the teams in it we could've as easily gone as other teams, like Arizona and Santa Barbara. I'm not overly disappointed. I felt like it was a 50-50 shot. Maybe we'll be a little bit hungrier next year."
Loyola had a comparable record to several of the teams selected and an impressive record against non-conference foes Cal State Fullerton, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and Arizona State. But the Lions stumbled in the WCAC, finishing fourth in what was considered a mediocre league except for Pepperdine.
"The thing that probably worked against us was our low finish in the conference," Snow said. "They took four of the teams from the Pac-6, and our record against that league was very good (7-3). I guess it gets a little political, and they got taken care of."
Snow also admits his pitching never came around. A year ago Tim Layana was an All-American and among the nation's victory leaders. But Layana is pitching in the pros now and nobody emerged as a stopper. The hard-hitting Lions had to batter opponents to overcome the nearly six runs per game the Lion pitchers allowed.
Snow hopes there's a parallel to his experience as pitching coach at Fullerton in 1983-84. "We had the same kind of problems in 1983," he recalled. "But most of those guys came back in 1984 and had that extra year of development and experience. In '84 they turned into the best pitching staff I ever had (Fullerton won the national championship). I hope we get the same turnaround. We'll go with a lot of these guys next year and count on a lot of development, hope they take a step forward.
"We'll be back."
The Palos Verdes Breakers under-19 girls soccer team capped a five-year reign by winning the California Youth Soccer Assn. State Cup recently, beating last year's champions, the Fountain Valley Stingers, 3-2.
The Breakers, made up of juniors and seniors from five South Bay high schools and one college freshman, were on the attack early, building a 3-0 lead before the Stingers chipped back with two goals before the half. The Breakers dug in defensively and produced a shutout in the second half. Breakers goals came from midfielder Suzie O'Grady and two by striker Shannon Maddock.
The Breakers, coached by Jim Lord and and Ken Nelson, have a 18-5-1 record with more action coming up in tournaments over the Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends. The team averaged 6.28 goals per game while allowing 0.71.
Lord formed the team in association with the Palos Verdes Soccer Club in 1982, and five of this year's players are original members of the 1982 team: Laura Goodale, Mindy Fountain, Shana Tucker, O'Grady and Cathy Lord. The State Cup game was Lord's 200th consecutive appearance in goal. She recorded nine shutouts this season.
Offensive leaders included Maddock, who had 39 goals this season; Tracy Brown (11), Sae Nelson (7), Tucker (6) and Michelle McGarry (5). Other key players were co-captain Julie Siskowic, Kris Winfield, Jennifer Hall, Kerry Meehan, Diane Dieter and Anne Norsworthy.