By Toan P. Do
Toan P. Do
UC Santa Cruz’s men’s lacrosse team pounded Diablo Valley College 11-5 in a preseason scrimmage at home on Sunday. The Slugs, sporting new tie-dyed jerseys and a new coaching staff, showed their potential and raised talk of returning to the national tournament.
The new coaching system has been transitioning smoothly, and thus far the Slugs have reaped the benefits. Although their fall season record does not count toward nationals, they demonstrated their talent at the Humboldt tournament, winning 4-0.
“I’d say the discipline is starting to pick up this year,” sophomore midfielder Samir Chaudry said. “We have a new conditioning regiment, which is excellent, and every player is involved and willing to put in the work to get to a championship. We feel with this new coaching staff, it’s really realistic.”
Amid all the optimism and aggressive team play, new head coach Alan DeBenedetti sets the bar high for his team.
“I think one thing that we all saw [today] was that our heads weren’t really in the game; we weren’t playing up to our highest standards, and because of that we didn’t really learn as much [from this scrimmage],” DeBenedetti said. “Preseason scrimmages are usually chances for us to work out the kinks. I’m not going to say today was a complete loss of that opportunity, but we really didn’t take full advantage of it.”
Despite DeBenedetti’s remarks on the game, the Slugs were by far the superior team, maintaining possession the majority of the time during the second and third quarters, staying constantly on the attack.
The audience could hear play calls being yelled such as “Iroquois” and “Apache” as the Slugs practiced their offensive attacks.
In a complete blur of tie-dye and sticks, every ground ball was a ferocious battle. Bodies flew and flipped in every direction, and with every head-splitting attack against the opposition came encouraging cheers from the Slug bench.
The Slugs’ recent success has left them looking and feeling invigorated, especially after having to power through a long season last year.
“We got to put our first trophy in the trophy case after we came back from the Humboldt tournament when we went 4-0,” DeBenedetti said. “I [helped] start this team with [senior midfielder] Eric Arabia in 2004, and it’s crazy to go all the way from the scrappers that we were in mismatched clothing, like the motley crew of lacrosse, all the way to going to nationals in Texas last year. And right now, that is our prime goal — we are going back to nationals.”
In the meantime, the 4-0 is a good start, Arabia said.
“It’s the fall season and none of these games are going to count toward us going to nationals at all,” Arabia said. “Right now it’s just a chance for us to really get out and see what kind of team we really are. So far we’ve seen that we have a lot of potential and we can play very well. But that’s all it is right now: potential.”
The Slugs can be picked out a mile away, in their flashy tie-dyed uniforms.
“Basically, we don’t have jerseys for the freshmen, so last year we were trying to figure out what we were going to do,” Arabia said. “Eventually the decision was made that we’d make a bunch of T-shirts ourselves, and thought we might as well tie-dye them.”
Chaudry chimed in: “Look good, play good.”