By Melody Chu
The fall sports season was highlighted by the accomplishments of the men’s and women’s soccer teams, who both made it to the third round of the NCAA DIII playoffs amidst an unprecedented amount of support from Slug fans. However, it was the men’s water polo team who emerged as the unlikely heroes, as they secured a DIII national championship title for the first time in Slug water polo history.
Women’s Cross Country
The Slug runners wrapped up their season this month, with a 10th place finish at the NCAA DIII Regional tournament in Chino, CA. Team standout Tamara Torlakson became the first runner in UCSC history to qualify as an individual to compete in the NCAA DIII nationals. For more on this story, please see article on page 22.
Although the first half of the golf season is already over, the team will resume in the spring to compete in at least three more tournaments. The team hosted the Women’s Fall Invitational late last month, where the Slugs fell just two shots shy of winning the tournament. Jessie Lewis took home the first place trophy for individuals, edging out teammate Stephanie Bishop in a sudden death playoff round.
With an incredible regular season record of 21-1-0 (11-1 DIII), the Slugs earned a bid to compete in the DIII playoffs. They pushed past Puget Sound 1-0 in the first round and upset second-seeded Trinity in round two. However, the team was eliminated 1-0 in sectionals by Nazareth on November 19th. The team will lose four seniors to graduation, including team captains Steve Wondolowski and David Frank, as well as Davey Cochrane and Justin Brock.
"We knew we were able to be the best team in the country," sophomore defender Keith Henwood said. "It sucks to lose like we did, but the season was still a success."
Undefeated in the regular season with a record of 17-0-4 (12-0-2 DIII), the women’s soccer team tore through the first two rounds of the playoffs, beating Claremont Mudd-Scripps 3-0 at home before defeating Webster College 4-0 in St. Louis. However, their winning streak finally came to an end in the third round, as the women fell 4-1 in penalty kicks to Hardin-Simmons.
This marks the first time in Slug history that the women’s soccer team had managed to advance past the first round of the playoffs.
The UCSC swimming/diving team last competed at the Speedo Cup in Long Beach two weeks ago. The women finished 14th out of 22 teams, while the men finished 10th out of 16. Now halfway through their season, the team will return to host Gustavis Adolfus on Dec. 30, their second-and last-home meet of the year.
"The season been long and tiring [between classes and doing doubles], but we have a much stronger team this year," junior Derek Streichman said. "The outlook for the NCAA looks good."
The Slugs started the season off strong, winning 12 of their first 20 games, but tapered off in the second half of the season with an eight-game losing streak in October. They finished the season with a record of 14-20 (8-8 DIII). The team also came up short at the DIII Independents Tournament at Colorado College, losing in all four games they competed in.
Men’s Water Polo
Plagued by injuries early in the season, the men’s water polo team played a difficult schedule and went 9-21 overall, 7-9 in Western Water Polo Association play. However, the team was able to pull everything together just in time for the WWPA playoffs. With a 3-1 tournament record, the team was named DIII champions for the first time in Slug history.
"Part of the reason why the season was so frustrating was because we played so many DI teams," team captain Grant Shubin said. "We knew we had a lot of talent so we knew if we could come together we would be huge, and show what we were made of."
Senior Will Sause was named to All-Conference second team. Shubin was named to the DIII All-American team by the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches, while junior goalkeeper Joe Lyons was named to the Second Team.
The team finished 19th overall in the nation out of all three divisions.
The men’s basketball team has struggled in the early part of the season, carrying a five-game losing streak. The team looks to earn its first victory of the season tonight in Redlands.
The women’s basketball team has also faced some early struggles, opening the season with four losses in a row, but finally earned its first victory last Saturday against Pomona-Pitzer in Southern California.