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COLLEGE/D1 MEN: LMU has the hot foot

Watch out for Loyola Marymount, which is off to a 4-0-0 start in the West Coast Conference, hasn't lost in almost a month and finds itself in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's top 25 for the just the second time since 2006.

The Lions are ranked 24th after WCC victories at San Francisco and St. Mary's followed by home wins last weekend over Gonzaga and Portland. It's the best conference start in school history but isn't all that surprising -- LMU was the coaches' pick to win the WCC.

Former U.S. national-team defender Paul Krumpe (Torrance/West Torrance HS), who was part of UCLA's 1985 NCAA title-winning team and played for the U.S. at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and 1990 World Cup, has built a winner in Westchester.

The Lions are led by Polish forward Artur Jozkowicz (Santa Monica HS), the WCC's September Player of the Month, and preseason All-American Rafael Baca (Lawndale/Animo Leadership HS), with UC Santa Barbara transfer David Ponce (Foothill Ranch/Trabuco Hills HS), midfielder Phil Da Silva, goalkeeper Jack McCormack (Manhattan Beach/Mira Costa HS) and backline leader Tyler Krumpe (Torrance/West Torrance HS), the coach's son, making considerable contributions.

Ponce is this week's WCC Player of the Week after contribuyting a goal and three assists in last weekend's victories.

Fernando Barba (Inglewood/Animo Leadership HS) scored two goals in Friday's 3-1 triumph over Gonzaga, and Joskowicz scored goals in that one and the 3-2 victory over Portland.

The Lions take on Santa Clara, at 2-0-2 the only other unbeaten side in the WCC, Friday in the Bay Area.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: UC Irvine coach George Kuntz tipped Gray Bailey (Huntington Beach/Huntington Beach HS) for a big season -- and recommended the pro scouts keep an eye on him -- before the season kicked off. He wasn't kidding.

The senior defender has been dynamite this season, a big reason the Anteaters are off to a 10-1-1 start (with nine shutouts), lead the Big West Conference with a 3-0-0 mark and have climbed as high as eighth in the national rankings.

Bailey anchored UCI's backline in victories Wednesday at UC Davis, where he scored the final goal, and Saturday against Cal Poly.

MORE UCI: The Anteaters' star forwards were on their game: Amani Walker scored in both Anteaters victories, his sixth and seventh goals of the season, and Spencer Thompson had a goal and two assists, giving him five of each.

But the biggest goal came from Ghanaian junior Bello Alhassan, the first of his career; he finished a backheel pass from Thompson in the 88th minute to overcome Cal Poly, 2-1.

FROSH POWER: UCLA (8-2-1) shares the Pac-10 lead with Cal, which the Bruins visit Sunday, and it's the underclassmen who are making the biggest impacts. Especially the freshmen.

The top three goalscorers -- Victor Chavez (Fontana/A.B. Miller HS) with five (plus three assists), Kelyn Rowe with four (plus five assists) and Reed Williams (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS) with three -- are first-years, and five more freshmen are making significant contributions.

And one of the best, goalkeeper Earl Edwards -- the top netminder in the 2010 recruiting class -- hasn't seen a second on the field, and that's because you only need one guy in the nets.

Freshmen have scored 13 of the Bruins' 18 goals -- Rowe had the honors in last weekend's 1-0 win over San Diego State -- and 12 of 25 assists, made 78 appearances (to 86 by everyone else) and 52 starts (of 110 in all).

UCLA has won four in a row since the Sept. 24 loss at UC Santa Barbara and are ranked 10th (Soccer America), 13th (NSCAA) and 14th (College Soccer News) nationally.

NOTES: Rafael Garcia, the pivotal figure on that great 24-0-1 Canoga Park High School team a few years back, scored goals four minutes apart as Cal State Northridge rallied from a two-goal deficit for a 2-2 draw at Cal Poly. ... Cal State Fullerton was paid back for its Big West upset of UC Santa Barbara two weeks ago. The Gauchos romped, 3-0, in the rematch, outshooting Fullerton, 31-6 and putting 15 shots on frame. The Titans hope to pull off something similar Wednesday night at Cal State Northridge, which won the first meeting, 3-0. ... Throw out the five Claremont Colleges, which compete at the D3 level, and the nearest neighboring universities in SoCal are Cal State Fullerton and Hope International, which occupies a former CSUF building across Nutwood from the big campus. The schools will meet for the first time in men's soccer Saturday night.

PACIFIC-10 CONFERENCE

UCLA (8-2-1, 3-0-0)

Saturday: UCLA 1 (Rowe 78), San Diego State 0

This week: Friday at Stanford, Sunday at California

Pacific 10 standings: UCLA 3-0-0, California 3-0-0, San Diego State 1-2-0, Stanford 1-2-0, Oregon State 1-3-0, Washington 1-3-0

BIG WEST CONFERENCE

CAL STATE FULLERTON (3-6-2, 2-2-0)

Wednesday: UC Santa Barbara 3 (Eubanks 37, Garza 38, Kiffe 64), Cal State Fullerton 0

Saturday: UC Riverside 1 (Wilson 6), Cal State Fullerton 2 (Escalante 2, Venegas 42)

This week: Wednesday at Cal State Northridge, Saturday vs. Hope International

CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE (2-7-2, 1-1-1)

Wednesday: Cal Poly 2 (White 44, Zamora pen. 67), Cal State Northridge 2 (Garcia 71, 75)

Saturday: Cal State Northridge 0, UC Davis 1 (Joslin 25)

This week: Wednesday vs. Cal State Fullerton, Saturday at UC Davis

UC IRVINE (10-1-1, 3-0-0)

Wednesday: UC Davis 0, UC Irvine 3 (Thompson 61, Walker 68, Bailey 70)

Saturday: UC Irvine 2 (Walker 44, Alhassan 88), Cal Poly 1 (White 5)

This week: Saturday at Cal Poly

UC RIVERSIDE (3-7-1, 0-3-0)

Saturday: UC Riverside 1 (Wilson 6), Cal State Fullerton 2 (Escalante 2, Venegas 42)

This week: Sunday vs. Cal State Fullerton

Big West standings: UC Irvine 3-0-0, UC Santa Barbara 3-1-0, Cal State Fullerton 2-2-0, Cal State Northridge 1-1-1, Cal Poly 1-2-1, UC Davis 1-2-0, UC Riverside 0-3-0

WEST COAST CONFERENCE

LOYOLA MARYMOUNT (8-3-1, 4-0-0), Westchester

Friday: Loyola Marymount 3 (Barba 14, 73, Jozkowicz 72), Gonzaga 1 (Smith 53)

Sunday: Loyola Marymount 3 (Ponce 12, Jozkowicz 18, Da Silva 40), Portland 2 (vanSchaik 65, Kawulok 74)

This week: Wednesday vs. San Diego, Friday at Santa Clara

WCC standings: Loyola Marymount 4-0-0, Santa Clara 2-0-2, Portland 2-1-1, St. Mary’s 2-2-0, San Diego 2-2-0, San Francisco 0-3-1, Gonzaga 0-4-0