By Justin Bercovich
This year’s UC Santa Cruz men’s soccer team may not resemble the teams of the recent past, but so far they are getting the same results. On Saturday, the Slugs defeated Cal State University, East Bay 3-0 to even their record at 10-1.
"It was a very good win for us in an extremely important game," coach Dan Chamberlain said of his team’s performance against their biggest rival.
The team’s early season success comes despite the departure of coach Paul Holocher, who won over 100 games in his career as a Slug. Holocher was replaced by Chamberlain after he accepted the head coaching position at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Chamberlain, 26, played and coached under Holocher at UCSC.
So far, the coaching transition has been a seamless one.
Junior Harry Abraham gave the Slugs a 1-0 lead when he scored in the 25th minute.
"When you get that first goal the game opens up and you can score two or three goals from there," Chamberlain said. "They defend very well. Getting that first goal and forcing them to come play in our half of the field was very important."
Freshman Drew Delis explained the problem with CSU East Bay’s strategy.
"They just pack everyone in the back and try to frustrate us, but it didn’t work," Delis said.
Senior captain David Frank and freshman Davin Kono added goals for the Slugs, who won their sixth straight game.
"The seniors have made it really easy for me by putting their confidence in me early," Chamberlain said. "These are guys that I played with when I was a senior here, so the relationship is definitely different."
Senior captain Steve Wondolowski commented on being coached by his former teammate.
It’s a little weird," Wondolowski said. "When I was a freshman I lived with him for a couple months, but the transition has been good. He has done a great job of keeping the friend and the coach separate."
The biggest coaching move of so far this season came against Ithaca College. With the game still scoreless at halftime, Chamberlain moved Wondolowski from defender to forward. Wondolowski scored the game winning goal fifteen minutes later.
"Since my sophomore year I have played every game at center defense," Wondolowski said. "We really needed a goal, so he put me up top, and I scored, so we’ve been going with that ever since."
The team fully expects to continue at their current pace.
"We hold ourselves to a very high level, and we have very high expectations, so we’re right about where we expect to be," Wondolowski said.
Some doubters didn’t believe the team could be successful after the departure of Holocher resulted in the loss a few key players who also chose to transfer to Cal Poly. But Frank likened this team to the 2004 squad, which lost 12 players from the previous year and still advanced to the national championship game.
"The Ithaca game is the highlight of the season so far," Chamberlain said. "But I hope that’s not the highlight at the end. I hope that we have a lot more that we can look back on."