Screams of “let’s go” echoed through the raindrops onto the field as the first half kicked off between the visiting William Jessup Warriors and the UC Santa Cruz Slugs. Jessup’s lone point came from its relentless attack in the first few minutes, which resulted in a goal by Yvette Perez.
But the Slugs didn’t let the goal hinder their spirits and kept the tempo at a fast pace.
“Come on ladies, every minute counts,” coach Emily Scheese said. Goals from sophomore Claire Lim and junior Megan Carey gave Santa Cruz its first lead of the game at 2-1 to close out the half. The Slugs faced 13 shots in the second half but the rhythm of the game was conducted by junior captain Kacie Ring, who won just about every ball in the air that came her way.
“We played better than we ever had. We compete with all the teams we play, but we have trouble scoring and today we just figured it out and scored some cool, unique goals,” Ring said.
Junior Alex Arce and freshman Gabby Powell scored a goal each, allowing the Slugs to cruise to a 4-1 victory over William Jessup University.
UCSC seniors were celebrated after the match, receiving sunflowers and photos of their time with the team.
“Today was the perfect day to have our last home game and our team really pulled through,” said senior defender/midfielder Hannah Pfannenstiel.
But the seniors can’t think too far ahead, as they still have six weeks left in their final season as NCAA athletes with potential for a playoff appearance. While the team’s overall record is 3-5-2, its Great South Athletic Conference record is 1-0, which places them second in the conference.
“What we have been working on is keeping up our consistency across halves,” coach Scheese said. “When the game did get dicey we focused on connecting and passing the ball as well as defending.”
Players are optimistic that they will finish the season strong and that the inevitable learning curves are over after adding eight freshmen and two transfers to the 26-player roster.
“We will do well,” junior captain Ring said. “We have struggled with our away games, but we were in a slump and I feel we are coming out of it. There are some harder Division III opponents coming up, but if we can compete against them I’m sure we will do great.”
The coaching staff’s goal for the next six weeks is to keep implementing the strategies they have been building all season and continue working on them while on the road. The next six games will take place away from home, beginning with a match on Oct. 9 at Sonoma State.
“It’s the life of a Slug,” Scheese said.