After its first week of games, the Webster University men’s soccer team starts out the season with a 1-2 record. All three games were characterized by strong defensive play and relatively quiet offensive play. Each game was decided by only one goal, as Webster’s defense surrendered three goals in three games.
Coach Marty Todt said he is impressed with the squad’s patience and work ethic after the first few games.
“The two most important ingredients at this point have been their work rate and their ability to have a little patience while the chemistry starts to come together,” Todt said.
The Gorloks’ first game of the season was the home opener at Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park against Washington University. After falling behind 2-0, Webster scored its first goal of the season, courtesy of senior midfielder Bryan Enger.
“The first (goal) is usually always the hardest,” Enger said. “I think once you get that first goal of the season, a little weight just gets brought up off the shoulders.”
One goal was all the Gorloks’ offense provided in the game, however. The game was kept close with a solid performance by freshman goalkeeper Brian Woodward. After taking over for senior Alex Cupp at halftime, Woodward shut out the Bears’ offense during the second half in his first career game for Webster. He credits the defense with helping to maintain the second-half shutout.
“It never came down to just me,” Woodward said. “It was the defense helping me out. Our defense and I worked together.”
The team then traveled to the Chicago area for two games over Labor Day weekend. The first match against Concordia University Chicago on Sept. 3 was delayed due to rain, but the Gorloks eventually took the field. The result was similar to the WashU game, though, as Webster was defeated 1-0. The goal was scored by the Cougars on a head ball in the final minute of the first half.
“The guys played well,” Todt said. “They created some opportunities. It was one of those games where for the first 25 minutes of the game we really dominated, moved the ball well. They played well; they worked hard. That’s one ingredient this whole season that has not been lacking, and that has been their work rate.”
Despite their efforts, it was the same story for Webster’s offense, as they were stymied and shut out by the opposition. The team, at that point of the season, had only scored one goal in two games.
“I feel like we had the majority of possession,” sophomore forward Pat McCaffery said. “We should have won that game. We didn’t give up. We still played really hard.”
The practices and perseverance finally paid off, as Webster won its first game of the season on Labor Day. The Gorloks defeated Aurora University 1-0 with McCaffery scoring the contest’s only goal. Junior midfielder Kyle Leonard was credited with the assist.
“It’s just a matter of hard work and determination,” senior midfielder Shea Vogt said. “It’s been kind of frustrating not being able to get a goal, but I think we’ve proven we can persevere. Winning was really a culmination of all that hard work.”
Junior forward Clint Carder was shown a red card with about 20 minutes to go in the game, but the Gorloks held on, thanks in part to the shutout effort of Cupp and the goal by McCaffery.
Todt said the team’s practice prior to the game against Aurora impacted the squad positively.
“We actually had about a two-hour practice yesterday in Aurora,” Todt said. “It was really a good practice. I think the coaching staff really felt good walking out of that practice.”
Vogt said the first win is important to the team and is a step in the right direction.
“Everyone right after that first goal was jubilant almost,” Vogt said. “It’s nice to see that we can win and we can get this stuff done even though we had two losses in a row. It means the world right now.”
Webster continues a stretch of six road games when they travel to Bloomington, Ill., to play Millikin University on Sept. 10 and Illinois Wesleyan University on Sept. 11.