By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Winning a ball to assist on the deciding goal in Loyola Marymount’s latest win, John McFarlin again displayed his value to the Lions soccer team.
The tireless, hard working midfielder is giving Loyola Marymount the same effort that made McFarlin an Empire Player of the Year at Santa Rosa High School.
A starter since his first season at Loyola Marymount and now a team captain, McFarlin wants to lead the Lions to the top of the West Coast Conference and an NCAA men’s tournament berth.
“We’re working to win our conference this year and make the tournament. I’m excited,” McFarlin said. “As a high school kid I grew up wanting to play at this level.”
Determination, in addition to strong and skilled play, has served McFarlin well in the major college game.
“John is the hardest worker on the team, fights to win every play, game or scrimmage, and is a very smart soccer player,” said Loyola Marymount coach Paul Krumpe. “He is also extremely coachable and is willing to ask hard questions.”
Not the biggest or fastest player, McFarlin has become one of Loyola Marymount’s best.
Twice the midfielder has received WCC Honorable Mention honors. McFarlin made the WCC All-Freshman Team.
Sharper passing, fewer turnovers, and improved decision making has McFarlin playing even better as a junior. Loyola Marymount’s assist leader a year ago, McFarlin now leads the Lions in scoring.
A highlight on the young season was banging a loose ball in the middle of the box for the tying goal at Colgate on Friday and then assisting on the game winner. McFarlin won a ball in the midfield and served to a teammate who beat the last defender for the deciding shot.
Loyola Marymount has won three of the Lions first four games on the young season. The team plays three times in the Bay Area, at St. Mary’s, San Francisco, and Santa Clara, all in November.
McFarlin is confident the Lions can post a winning record and even reach the postseason.
“We’re off to a good start. We definitely trust each other. It’s looking good so far,” he said.
Steady improvement in McFarlin’s game is matched by the team’s growth.
“We’re returning a bunch of guys. Last year we were an extremely young team. This year we’re definitely a lot closer and working well as a unit,” McFarlin said.
A catalyst to the Lions strong start, McFarlin uses quickness and crisp passing to help direct the offense. Working hard to get everyone involved, McFarlin continues developing a feel for when to shoot and when to pass.
McFarlin’s unselfish play is recognized by teammates, setting an example that led to the captain’s honor.
“He was always willing to do the extra little bit in training or on the game field,” Krumpe said. “John has a fantastic work rate, is a tenacious defender, and a super soccer IQ.”
While not an outspoken player, McFarlin embraces the role as one of the Lions’ captains.
“I feel like I came into that role naturally,” McFarlin said. “It’s a lead by example thing. I need to set a good example for the younger guys.”
Playing the game the right way helped McFarlin land on the Portland Timbers U-23 team the past two summers. The Timbers are a Major League Soccer club. The U-23 team, with a large roster made up of college players, competes in the Premier Development League.
“John’s time in Portland has given him the opportunity to look beyond college and the other soccer opportunities that are available to him,” Krumpe said.
Playing in a little under half the Timbers matches, McFarlin gained valuable experience against some of the nation’s young soccer standouts.
“It was really all about the training. It’s been a great experience,” McFarlin said. “It helps you know what the next level looks like. I bring that back to my team and try to raise our level of play.”
Professional soccer is McFarlin’s goal, whether in the U.S. or abroad.
“As long as I can stay healthy and keep progressing, I think I’ll get a lot of exposure,” McFarlin said.
First is completing his studies at Loyola Marymount. McFarlin is a business finance major on track to graduate in less than four years.
Not that McFarlin is in a hurry to end his college experience. The bluff-top campus in west Los Angeles is a 15 minute bike ride from the beach.
“It’s been really good for me,” he said. “I’ve found a home down here for sure.”
Junior, midfielder Loyola Marymount University
College highlights: West Coast Conference Honorable Mention as freshman, sophomore…WCC All-Freshman Team…last season, led Lions in assists as sophomore
High school: Santa Rosa High School…All-Empire Boys Player of the Year in 2009
Notable: Played for Portland Timbers U-23 team summer 2012, 2013
LMU men’s soccer:
NCAA Division I…3-1 on season…Picked to finish third in WCC