Against an organized and hard-working squad from Menlo (3-11-0), The UCSC Men's Soccer Team (15-1-0) battled their way to a 3-0 victory on the Lower East Field on Monday.
The Slugs struggled to find their rhythm early, and, although they started to find their groove as the half played on, failed to score in the first half for the first time since their 1-0 victory over Ithaca in Colorado on September 22nd.
As going into halftime without a lead is somewhat unusual territory for the Slugs, UCSC head coach Dan Chamberlain made a point to emphasize the importance of composure and patience for the in the second half. And it was no coincidence that Alex Tocco, always the most composed player in the field, was the first to break through for the Slugs.
And did he ever break through.
In the 67th minute, Tocco unleashed a rocket that left Menlo keeper Jarin Beck no chance. "It was unbelievable. He just crushed it from about 30 yards out," Chamberlain said.
"There is a fire inside of Alex, that you don't always get to see because of his quiet, confident attitude on the field, but the way he hammered that ball was a little bit of insight into the type of competitor that he is," said first year assistant coach Eric Bucchere.
Riding a huge wave of momentum after Tocco's earth-rumbling strike, the Slugs scored again one minute later in the 68th. Harry Abraham closed down and got stuck in on a retreating Menlo defender, just before touching to his left foot and finding the top shelf for his team-leading 11th goal of the season.
In the 85th minute it was Abraham again, getting his head to the end of a Drew Delis corner kick and knocking in his 12th goal of the year.
The Slugs play again this Sunday at 1:00 pm at the Lower East Field in a playoff preview against 2005 National Finalist Gustavus Adolphus. If you see only one game this season, make it this Sunday. In addition to some world-class soccer, there will be a BBQ, and halftime raffle with some great prizes. Don't miss it!