On Dec. 2, the unranked California Lutheran Regals along with sophomore Macey Peery, a Roaring Fork Valley native, held claim to the Division III women’s soccer national championship. The first place finish marked the program’s first national title, a remarkable achievement for the team and for Peery, who graduated from Roaring Fork High School in 2022.
The Regals’ journey to the championship was nothing short of historic. They became the first unranked team to reach, and subsequently win, the final. With a season record of 19-1-6, they set the second-most wins in the program’s history. Despite an earlier loss to No.18 Pomona-Pitzer in the SCIAC Tournament championship, the Regals avenged this defeat in the NCAA Tournament’s second round. They continued their remarkable run by defeating No.1 Christopher Newport University in the Elite Eight and No. 2 Washington University in the championship game.
Peery, an education major, did not see action in the championship game due to a back injury but was instrumental in the semifinal win over Tufts University. Her journey to collegiate soccer was marked by determination and skill.
At Roaring Fork High School, she earned numerous accolades, including Western Slope League All-Conference Honorable Mention in 9th grade, Western Slope League First Team All-Conference in 11th and 12th grade and All-State Honorable Mention honors in 11th grade. She also played club soccer for Glenwood United Football Club, which merged with Roaring Fork Valley Soccer Club in 2022 to form Roaring Fork United.
“We didn’t have to be ranked to show the rest of the country how good we are,” Peery said.
Her confidence in her team’s abilities never wavered, even when their place in the NCAA tournament was uncertain.
“After our loss in the conference championship, we weren’t sure if we were going to make it into the tournament,” Peery said. “When we saw that we got in, we said, ‘Hey, now it’s time to lock in and get to work.’”
The championship win left an indelible mark on Peery.
“Honestly I don’t remember much,” Peery said. “I was in shock. I just remember looking at the clock with time winding down, me and my teammates all looked at each other and couldn’t really believe it at first.”
California Lutheran head coach Frank Marino praised Peery’s contributions.
“Where do I start with Macey,” Marino said. “She is a fantastic all-around human-being. You don’t have to worry about her in the classroom or off the pitch. I can’t wait to see the contributions that she makes to this team next year.”
Marino acknowledged Peery’s growth, noting her initial challenge to adapt to the collegiate level’s pace and competition.
“The most evident thing you could see when Macey first got here her freshman year was she had some catching up to do with the pace of the game,” Marino said. “She came from a small town where she was always the best player and now she is going up with equal competition, but you could tell this year that she has worked hard and that hard work is going to pay off these next couple years.”
Peery’s freshman year high school coach, Nick Forbes, recognized her potential early on.
“The minute you saw Macey play her freshman year at Roaring Fork, you could tell she was going to be something special,” Forbes said. “Her touch, her ball skills, her IQ on the pitch, she was a freshman in high school but she was arguably the best player on the pitch.”
Peery attributed part of her decision to join California Lutheran to the team’s bond. The connection she felt with the team was a significant factor in her journey from a small town to the national stage. Now, the Regals can claim their first national championship.
“It’s something I will never forget,” Peery said. “This team is my family, and I can’t wait to get back to work. We are national champions. We have a target on our back now and we love it.”