by Damien Alarcon
Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor
Shayon Jalayer has the opportunity to build a young team into a powerful contender for the upcoming ULV soccer season.
The first-year head coach will lead the men’s team into a fierce Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) schedule featuring perennial powerhouses Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Cal Lutheran.
With nine returnees out of a 20-man roster, Jalayer, along with assistant coaches Josh McClane and Daniel Trimmer, will tame a squad that finished 5-10 last year.
“We have quite a few injuries but things are looking up,” Jalayer said. “Our guys are getting better and getting healthy. When we get Robbie [Turner] back, he will make a big difference.
“We are blessed with three good keepers, but Robbie is just a cut above the other two,” he said.
Because of an injury, Turner, a freshman goalkeeper, did not play, nor was he needed in Saturday’s non-conference matchup against Concordia.
The Leopard defense shut down the Concordia offense in the second half en route to a 3-2 victory over the Eagles at Ben Hines Field.
“It was a good win and we did what we had to do,” said Jalayer. “It is an accomplishment in itself to hold on to the lead for a half, which is a good result.”
Sophomore midfielder Ryan Rodriguez scored the Leopards’ first goal 14:52 into the game with an assist from freshman midfielder Nathan Chabolla. Soon after the opening goal, Chabolla scored an unassisted goal in the 18th minute of the contest.
Freshman Trevor Bermudez of Concordia scored the Eagles’ only two goals in the 23rd and 27th minute to bounce back from the 2-0 deficit.
“After we had the 2-0 lead, we got too comfortable,” said senior defender Jorge Macias. “They came back, we are lucky to score again and in the second half we played as a team by passing the ball around a lot.”
Nine minutes before halftime, sophomore striker Art Pico kicked in the game’s final goal. Rodriguez served the game-winning assist.
“We kept them in the game longer than we had to,” said Jalayer, “but we are young and make a lot of naïve mistakes, but we will get better in time.”
The Leopards managed to rebound after Thursday’s 5-0 loss to Biola, dropping their record to 2-2.
The team features seven freshmen, seven sophomores, four juniors and Macias, the lone senior.
“As a team we have a great attitude for this year and are set on winning,” said Macias. “The practices are intense and the coaches know what they are doing.”