By Melody Chu
If this were a game of Survivor, the UC Santa Cruz women’s soccer team would still be on the island. So far, the Slugs have managed to outwit, outplay and outlast every one of their opponents.Twelve victories. Twelve shutouts. Three ties. Zero losses.Yet despite the tremendous amount of success the team has enjoyed this season, the Slugs still choose to take things one day at a time. "It’s all about the next game," coach Michael Runeare said. "Who do we play next, and how can we play better?"Assistant coach Gina Ramirez agreed."We don’t want to be overwhelmed by trying to reach too high too early," Ramirez said. "We treat each game as if it were two games, and we want to win each half."The strategy has definitely paid off, as the team has remained perfect with just two weeks left in the season. The Slugs are hoping to secure a bid in the NCAA Division III playoffs, but as an independent school, the there is no guarantee that the team will make it to the postseason, regardless of their final record. So all the Slugs can do for now is continue to win."Everyone has the same common goals," Ramirez said. "We’re doing what’s necessary to get to the playoffs."Last Friday, the Slugs mauled fellow DIII independent University of Dallas, scoring a season-high seven goals in the shutout victory. Wendy Funk notched two goals, while Miranda Emanuel and Kira Ticus each knocked one in for the Slugs. Sophomore Annick Lamb, who has been the team’s leading scorer all season, tallied the final three goals."It was a good effort on everybody’s part to put it away," Lamb said. "So far we’ve done really well. We just have to keep our focus."Monday’s game against Menlo College proved to be more difficult. Last year, the Slugs lost to Menlo 3-2 and then had to watch as Menlo (8-6-1 so far this season) advanced to the regional tournament, denying UCSC a spot.But this time around, the team was able to grind out a 2-0 victory. Freshman Karli Cowman started the scoring by netting one for the Slugs, but the team had to play with a slim, one-goal lead for the majority of the game. Lamb scored her team-high 14th goal of the season in the final minutes to pad the lead and secure the win."Offensively we played well the first half," Runeare said. "But we were lucky to score another goal. We tried to generate opportunities but on three out of the four tries we weren’t able to capitalize."Co-captain Katie Loomis also noted that opponents have been physically aggressive. "People are gunning for you," Loomis, the starting goalkeeper, said. Loomis has anchored the Slug defense this season by posting 10 shutouts. "People are pushing more, trying to get into our heads. But we play quick and we definitely wouldn’t have so many shut-outs if it wasn’t for our defense."The team’s success has been due in part to a number of talented freshmen joining a strong core of returning players. There are 11 freshmen on the team, including five starters. Sophomore Shelby Stillians emphasized the team’s chemistry."This season we really came together as a family," Stillians said. "We learned how to connect by trusting each other and had success from trying new things, new ideas, new plays, and being creative."With only three games left to play, the team knows that their most difficult stretch of the season is still yet to come, with matches with Cal Lutheran, Chapman University, and CSU East Bay left. UCSC lost to Cal Lutheran last year, and Chapman University has always proved to be difficult. The team will then finish the season away from home in a game against local rivals CSU East Bay."It’s near the end of the season and we have outside things in mind," Loomis said. "But being undefeated is the best feeling in the world. We have so much potential, we just need the chance to go all the way." And the team agrees that this could be their year."You know, like the Gatorade commercial," freshman forward Kira Ticus said. "It’s in us."