The men’s soccer team began this season with hopeful expectations of regional post-season glory. And up until last week, the Slugs found themselves on track in the midst of a five-game winning streak. That was before a 0-0 double overtime home draw to Menlo College and a three goal loss at Redlands University momentarily humbled the team’s expectations.
On Oct. 6 and 7, the Slugs will look to rebound in two home games versus Rowan and La Sierra, in what the Slugs hope to be a return to their winning ways.
Senior defender Aaron Surrey said he believes the team needs to take the season one game at a time.
“Right now we’re focusing on Rowan,” Surrey said. “One mid-season loss against a formidable opponent is not the end of our season. We need to just get back to playing our game.”
After last week’s loss and draw, the team responded with a long practice to get the players into their best physical shape. Surrey said that the team did not respond well to the hot weather in the game at Redlands, but that weather was not a valid excuse for a loss.
“We’ve played in hotter weather before,” Surrey said. “We will continue conditioning to get better.”
After an early season setback at the Gustie Classic tournament, UC Santa Cruz ran the table with a five-game winning streak, their longest streak since 2010–11 season. During the streak, the Slugs outscored their opponents 10-2, showcasing their offensive firepower and defensive abilities in each win.
Both Surrey and senior defender Alika Okamitsu said he felt the Slugs 6-3-1 win-loss record shows the team’s strength at goalkeeping. In the Menlo College draw, goalkeeper Nate Levinson matched the efforts of Menlo College’s keeper, recording three saves to Menlo’s six. Okamitsu said the teams’s keepers free the team up to be more risky in offense and defense.
“We have two top class seniors in goalkeepers Nate [Levinson] and Matt [Pereira],” Okamitsu said. “They open up the game for us and make us more comfortable in getting into the attack.”
Menlo College forward Andrew Cota said UCSC’s goalkeepers and defense are the most frustrating to play against. The Oakes forward was consistently stymied by Levinson and UCSC’s defense in the Menlo draw, recording only one shot on goal the entire game.
“The goalkeepers of UCSC can do a lot of things well, and it was pretty annoying for me,” said Menlo College forward Andrew Cota. “They were making diving saves and keeping me off balance the entire game.”
Regardless of the setbacks, Surrey said the Slugs were going to work hard to make the regional playoffs.
“We know that getting two wins is crucial,” Surrey said. “We’ll be coming out hungry.”