21 players return from last year's squad in their quest for SLIAC tournament.
From the sidelines to superstardom: Melissa Kasper guides women’s soccer team to historic season
Melissa Kasper has been playing soccer since she was 3-years-old. At age 6 she was playing club. Now, Kasper is getting regional recognition and netting success at Webster University with multiple goal games and game winning goals.
Kasper lettered four times in high school. She was captain and named all-conference as a senior. Head Coach Luigi Scire found Kasper making a name for herself playing select for Team Chicago in Oswego, Illinois.
“Melissa’s competitiveness stood out immediately,” Scire said. “Her speed and quickness were obvious, but it was her aggressive play and ability to take on defenders one-on-one with speed that separated her from the other forwards.”
Kasper did not get a lot of playing time her during freshman year. She was seventh on the team with just 994 minutes logged but third on the team in scoring goals with six. She went All-Conference that year, which is a first for someone who is not a starter. Kasper was also named newcomer of the year.
“I am thankful and glad I could contribute,” Kasper said. “It was a different system playing 3-4-3 and having to man-mark. I had never done before, but I really liked it.”
Coach Scire said Melissa really worked hard coming into to Webster. She made herself an asset.
“She never got down on herself and never complained,“ Scire said. “By the end of the season, Melissa was a key player and a big reason why we won the conference tournament championship.” “Every time Melissa stepped on the field she made a case for herself.”
Olivia Osterhage is Kasper’s teammate and roommate. She said Kasper is a fierce competitor with several multiple goal games at Webster University.
“She [Kasper] has a strong desire to win and will do anything to get there,” Osterhage said.“She takes it upon herself to lead the team and encourages everyone to give their best effort.”
The St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) has awarded Kasper several different accolades. She has made First Team, Player of the Week a couple of times, she has won SLIAC Offensive Player of the Week, among others.
Kasper is in Webster’s top 20 all-time for scoring three game winning goals last year. She is in Webster’s top 20 for most points in a game averaging just over 1.5 points a game.
Kasper makes her mark on and off the field. In high school she made honor roll and at Webster she has made the Dean’s list.
Coach said Kasper continually pushes herself.
“If you are going to play at a high level during the game, you must set the tone for yourself at practice,” Scire said.“Melissa will always be there pushing herself and her teammates.”
Three times this season a Gorlok has been honored as SLIAC Player of the Week. Kasper leads her teammates with 11 goals this year. She has 11 assists for 33 points from 49 shots.
Kasper has a mindset of never being outworked in practice or in games her coach said.
“Melissa is a self-starter. She is so motivated and just hates to lose,” Scire said. “You just give her the freedom and flexible to be herself. There is nothing a coach needs to do, but, let Melissa be Melissa.”
Kasper does not like to run miles and is not necessarily into eating healthy but her love for the game she has been playing since a toddler motivates her to success.
“She [Kasper] is very determined” Osterhage said. “She is also very fun and sarcastic.”
The Webster University Athletic Director occasionally will ask Kasper to join track because of her speed. Kasper said people often ask her about running track.
“I don’t enjoy just running,” Casper said. “I am very appreciative of the gift of speed I have been given but I like to run with a goal scored at the end of the field.”