ORANGE, Calif. - The pregame tribute to five Chapman University women's soccer seniors lasted about five minutes. The positive vibes from those festivities lasted only slightly longer. Visiting U.C. Santa Cruz spoiled Chapman's "Senior Day", scoring its first goal just 3:19 into the match and defeating the Panthers 5-1 at Wilson Field on Sunday afternoon.
For Chapman (12-7), it was the third straight loss and fourth defeat in its previous five matches - all at home - to close out the regular season. The Panthers will have to wait a week to find out if they will be selected to the NCAA Division III playoffs as an at-large team.
Meanwhile, independent rival U.C. Santa Cruz (11-4) jumped on the board quickly and took control of the game with two goals in the first 24 minutes of play from Kira Ticus and Sarah Damert.
It looked as though the Banana Slugs would take a 2-0 lead into halftime, but Chapman rallied for a goal at 43:05 from senior F Stephanie Lambrakis - her team-best ninth goal of the year. Junior F Alicia Fraticelli started the play with a cross from the right side that found junior M Bridget Thomson. Thomson and Lambrakis had a two-on-one, so Thomson took the Slugs' defender with her and fed Lambrakis for the assist, cutting the deficit to one.
The goal seemed to be a momentum-changer for the Panthers, who applied more pressure early in the second half. Chapman had a handful of scoring opportunities after halftime, including a shot which trickled just wide-right of the Santa Cruz goal that would have tied the game. The Panthers' momentum, however, was killed just moments later when Santa Cruz scored its third goal of the game in the 65th minute to take a commanding 3-1 lead.
Chapman never recovered. The Banana Slugs scored twice more with back-to-back goals just 1:07 apart to win going away.