October 17, 2018

Men’s soccer leads SLIAC with historic start to season

Webster University men’s soccer team approaches each game with a common mantra: respect everyone, but fear no one.

The team used that mindset of fearlessness to propel them to a 9-2 start, among their best in franchise history, and a first-place standing within the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC).

Where winning has been constant, the team recognizes two different aspects that have been crucial to the team’s success. The first being its defense, which has allowed only six points in 11 total matchups.

For perspective, Webster University and Principia College (3-2) are the only teams to have allowed fewer than 10, and the Gorloks have played six more games. Freshman goalkeeper Matt Coffey said he believes communication and depth have been key factors for success.

“Our defense has been extremely solid this year,” Coffey said. “This is because all 11 guys on the field are willing to defend as a group and communicate with one another. We have a strong defensive core and are very deep defensively, which sets us up for a lot of success.”

As cohesive as they have been on the defensive end, the team’s late-game execution has been just as telling in the win-loss column. The team opened the season by winning 1-0 in four of the first five games, which included a             second half defensive shutout against Monmouth and the University of Minnesota Morris.

Four days later, the team would see sophomore midfielder Hunter Olaso drain a game-winning goal with 43 seconds left.

Saturday afternoon’s victory, which brought the Gorloks to 9-2, was also critical because it allowed the team to flex its muscles and add to its confidence in SLIAC games. With the 2-0 victory over MacMurray College, the Gorloks continued its streak of 10 consecutive conference victories, dating back to 2016.

Head coach Mike Siener said that the team used a game-by-game approach, but that he was impressed with the way the team had stepped up historically.

“We’ve done well in conference games in my time here, and I’d just credit our guys,” Siener said. “They really step up to the challenge. They get after it. We’ve done a good job and we’ve had some success in being other conference teams.”

The team has that streak, as well as its eight-game winning streak on the road. Junior defensemen Miles Minnaar said that the team’s fortitude on the road is based on personal motivations.

“Personally, I definitely want to win because I don’t want to drive eight hours back with a loss,” Minnaar said. “I think that’s kind of shared between a lot of the guys, and we don’t want to let our coach down either.”

Coffey, who paced the team with six saves in 90 minutes of action during their last game, also weighed in, citing the team’s pregame saying and determination as the main reasons for that success.

“Coming into road games after making the trip, we are determined to come out of there with a win,” Coffey said. “Every game we play we have the mindset of coming out with a win, so I wouldn’t say the road games are approached more aggressively. It has just played out like that.”

The Gorloks will seek to continue its torrid pace, as it reaches the home stretch of the season. Prior to the SLIAC Tournament on Nov. 1, the team will play seven of its final eight games in league play. Five of those games will be played on the road, where they are a perfect 4-0 on the year.

The team will be clinging onto a narrow first-place lead with Greenville University (8-2) and Spalding University (7-2-1) in close proximity. The team is in the driver’s seat for a potential SLIAC championship, but All-SLIAC sophomore goalkeeper Matt Amick spoke on the team’s simple focus until that moment comes.

“We knew going into this year that we had a great group of guys from top to bottom,” Amick said. “The mentality in the locker room has just been really focused, taking it game by game.”

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