THOUSAND OAKS- A gallant defensive effort came up just short as UC Santa Cruz saw its season end with a 2-0 loss to 20th-ranked Cal Lutheran in the NCAA Tournament.
UCSC finishes 5-15-1 in their third consecutive postseason appearance after playing the country's toughest schedule. CLU improved to 16-3-2 and plays Pacific Lutheran on Sunday for the "West Coast championship" and right to advance to the Sweet 16.
"We talked in the locker room about playing for the person next to you, and this team played with a lot of heart and fought for every ball every second, " said head coach Lauren Nadler.
"I thought this team showed their character and fight throughout the match."
The Banana Slugs possessed well early and got a left-footed volley from Olivia Stewart in the 21st minute that Gabby Flores saved. For the rest of the half however the Regals kept the ball, but the UCSC defense was able to keep the hosts at bay. Allie Mandel had a great save in the 23rd minute and the Slug defense fended off a barrage nine minutes later that brought the crowd to their feet.
The Banana Slugs kept the shutout going with great play from Mandel and the backline of Joelle Steichen, Katie Schinnerer, Lindsey Archer and Gaby Powell. The Regals finally broke through in the 78th minute when Sarah Tadeusiak won the ball at midfield and sent it ahead to Alexandra Fagerberg who slipped it past Mandel to make the score 1-0. They doubled the lead with 1:22 left when Kali Youngdahl stole the ball and hit a high volley from distance that dropped in.
The Banana Slugs didn't quit and at the restart, Claire Lim let loose a bomb from the center circle, but Flores saved it to keep the shutout.