By Justin Bercovich
Playing the No. 1 team in the nation may seem like a tall task, but it was nothing that the UC Santa Cruz men’s soccer team couldn’t handle. The Slugs beat previously undefeated Trinity College 4-0 Sunday, capping a very successful weekend at the Division III NCAA tournament.
The Slugs beat the University of Puget Sound 1-0 Saturday, before topping the team that knocked the Slugs out of the postseason three years ago.
"We got spanked 3-0 by [Trinity] my freshman year," team captain David Frank, one of only a few Slugs who were part of that playoff elimination game. "So for us it was really good redemption."
In Saturday’s game, junior Harry Abraham scored the lone goal. Senior co-captain Steve Wondolowski, usually a striker, played defense in the second half after a Slug defender received a red card. It was the first time Wondolowski had been called on to play defense since early in the season.
On Sunday, Wondolowski returned back to forward and stepped up in a different way, scoring the first two goals. Abraham added a goal, his second of the weekend, making it 3-0.
Freshman Drew Delis tried to quantify Abraham’s contribution.
"The goal on Saturday obviously won the game, but the goal on Sunday won the game as well," Delis said. "[Trinity] was still fighting when we were up 2-0, but after the third goal, they were done."
Coach Dan Chamberlain was thrilled with his team’s play.
"It was definately a team effort," Chamblerlain said of the win. "I couldn’t name a player who didn’t have an A game out there."
The Slugs will now fly to Newark, New Jersey, where they will play Nazareth (14-4-2 regular season record) on Saturday night. Nazareth defeated Medaille College in the second round. If the Slugs defeat Nazareth, they will advance to play the winner of the New York University-Stevens Institute (New Jersey) match. The Slugs need to win three more matches to reach the finals in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Coach Chamberlain is confident his team has the talent to win the whole thing.
"None of us would show up for work if we didn’t believe we could win a national championship," Chamberlain said.To view online brackets of both the men’s and women’s DIII soccer tournaments, visit ncaasports.org.I.A. Stewart contributed to this report