Taking it to the next level: Women’s soccer team qualifies for regional playoffs

Slug sophomore Gloria Hernandez (No. 3, white jersey) takes on an opponent during regular season play.

The hard-working UCSC women’s soccer team is bound for Southern California this weekend to compete in the regional playoffs for the first time in two years.

The NCAA Division III team, consisting of seven frosh, seven sophomores, three juniors and three seniors, qualified for the regionals from 2006 through 2009 but were shut out last year.

Now they’re back, and bound for Thousand Oaks, where they will face the California Lutheran University team on Saturday, November 12, 7:30 p.m.

Coach Josh Schelhorse says the team has been playing and practicing with a renewed level of focus and determination.

“They have a more competitive attitude than they did last year, and that shows in a number of ways,” Schelhorse said.

The team has been scoring more goals and staying healthier, with fewer injuries. Now they’re riding on a wave of confidence after beating the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s soccer team 1-0 in double overtime with 23 seconds left in the game.

That October 30th home game was UCSC’s first victory over their rivals, the CMS Athenas, since 2007.

Back in 2006, UCSC defeated CMS in the first round of the NCAA playoffs. It has been an historic rivalry ever since, with UCSC on the losing end of it until now, with the recent win.

“That win probably pushed us over into the playoffs,” Schelhorse said. “It was a big win for us.”

The other two teams in this weekend’s regional playoffs are Concordia College -- based in Moorhead,  Minn. -- and the University of Puget Sound.

The winners of those two games will face each other Sunday at 5 p.m.

Update: the UCSC Women's Soccer Team defeated Cal Lutheran on Saturday 1-0, advancing to the second round of the regionals. On Sunday, they lost to Concordia College 2-0.