By Melody Chu
Fans of the UC Santa Cruz women’s soccer team may be used to seeing the team win, but they sure aren’t ready to start paying to see it.
UCSC topped Claremont Mudd-Scripps Wednesday in the team’s first playoff game, and while the exciting 3-0 win was well worth the price of admission, the NCAA’s entry fee policy cost the Slugs a number of supporters.
"People came and saw it cost money to get in so they turned around and left," said Zabia Geisreiter, who helped run the admissions table as a member of the women’s basketball team.
While some people found ways to bypass the admissions table without paying by finding an alternate entrance, fans who gathered on the Lower East Field’s hillside to watch from afar were asked by OPERS staff to leave.
Nonetheless, the team played to a large home crowd-and even received an impromptu halftime rally from streaking members of the UCSC swim team. (The swim team members were not asked to pay the entry fee.)
"We’re just out here to support women’s soccer!" yelled swimmer Jason Huggett as he pranced off the field.
With the victory, the Slugs (17-0-3) advance to the second round of the 60-team tournament. The Slugs will play against Webster College Saturday in St. Louis. Webster College received a first-round bye, and is into the second round automatically.
Annick Lamb, the team’s leading goal-scorer, gave the Slugs an early lead eight minutes into the game. The Slugs continued to dominate offensively, as freshman Karli Cowman scored off Didi Ramirez’s corner kick in the second half, and Danielle Mullen padded the lead with her goal in the 83rd minute.
"It’s been our goal all season to score off of a corner kick and that was our first," Cowman said. "We weren’t that comfortable because we’ve been down before [against Claremont] and came back to win. They could have come back."
According to coach Michael Runeare, the team defense still wasn’t as in sync as he would have liked to have seen, but still thought they played exceptionally well. The Slugs have the second-ranked defense in the nation.
"We were able to dictate the flow and the momentum of the game," Runeare said. "But make one mistake, and better teams will be able to capitalize on them."
Goalkeeper Katie Loomis, playing through a knee injury, finished with five saves.
"Our defense allows so few great shots on goal," Loomis said.
A number of the Slugs sported temporary tattoos on their necks, a team tradition that sophomore defender Morgan McCarthy explained all began on a trip to L.A. Several team members headed over to Safeway on Tuesday night to get tattoos out of the dispenser.
"We like to look fierce and tattoos on our necks were the fiercest things we could think of," junior Danielle Mullen said, sporting a vintage rose design.
Although she did point out that the team can’t attribute the victory simply to the charms.
"Practicing and being confident in ourselves helped," Mullen said.
It was a special and rare treat for UCSC to host a playoff game, especially on such short notice. The UCSC Athletics Department had to scramble to get all the preparations ready, and it certainly didn’t help that a freak malfunction with the sprinkler system on Monday night left the Lower East Field flooded come Tuesday. OPERS staff members and volunteers came out to rake and mow the field over to make the field playable.
Yet many would-be supporters never got the chance to appreciate the field or the game.
"We were about to pay the entry fee, but we saw other people stand here and no one told them to leave," said Stevenson second-year Jesse Goldberg, who watched the game from a lawn chair set up outside of the fence.
The fee was especially upsetting to certain members of the men’s soccer team, who wanted to support their counterparts before traveling to San Antonio this weekend to compete in their first playoff game.
"There is a really mutual support between the two teams," men’s player Stefan Clemens said, while loitering by the admissions table with several other team members. "I think all Santa Cruz athletes should get in free to their own games."
According to Athletic Director Linda Spradley, the NCAA takes in the majority of the collected fees, although UCSC gets back 20 percent. The NCAA pays for its teams to travel for postseason games.
"Whenever the NCAA has an opportunity to generate income, they do," Spradley said. "[The fee] was mandatory, and now everyone knows."
The Slugs, who came into the postseason as the No. 4 team in the nation, and the No. 1 team in the West region, were just glad that they were able to finish the home schedule undefeated.
"I think they should let anyone who wants to come, come," said Lamb, who pointed out that the players had made announcements in classes and dining halls asking Slug supporters to attend the game. Lamb was unaware that there was an entry fee until right before the game began.
"I saw people sneaking down the hill and that made me happy," Lamb said. "They’re just pumping us up, and it’s all in good spirit."