The Webster University women’s soccer team was poised to make history in the squad’s Oct. 6 road game against the Washington University Bears.
The Gorloks had never beaten WashU in program history, as the Bears held a 10-0-2 all-time record against their crosstown opponent. But when Webster senior midfielder Amanda Zeier scored to give the Gorloks a 1-0 lead with four minutes left in the first half,, the Gorloks were in position to pull the upset.
WashU, however, had other plans. The Bears, who entered the game with a No. 9 ranking in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, knotted the score at 1 only three and a half minutes into the second half.
WashU went up for good nine minutes later and tacked on two second-half insurance goals in their 4-1 win over the Gorloks. The nonconference loss dropped Webster’s record to 7-4-1 overall (2-0 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference). WashU is 11-2 overall.
“The first half we had a much greater attention to detail, offensively and defensively,” said Mike Hutchison, associate head coach. “In the second half, we were giving our man too much space. They were able to easily possess it and string together passes, which caused us to chase a lot and created gaps in our defense.”
Freshman goalkeeper Jessica Davis started for Webster and made four saves on nine WashU shots to keep the Bears scoreless in the opening 45 minutes. Coach Luigi Scire — as he has done in 10 of 12 games this season — subbed in a new goalie at halftime.
Senior goalie Brittany Senator faced 16 WashU shots in the second half, made four saves and allowed four goals. The loss dropped her record to 6-2. Davis said she was fine with being subbed out at halftime.
“I have complete and total faith in Brit,” Davis said. “I think she does a great job back there. I don’t mind splitting time with her at all — I’m used to it by now. It was frustrating that we couldn’t score in the second half.”
The Bears had the better of the play in both halves, but couldn’t capitalize on their first-half chances. In the Gorloks’ first true scoring chance of the game, senior midfielder Lindsey Owens took a shot from the top of the box that was initially stopped by WashU goalkeeper Clara Jaques.
The rebound fell to the feet of Zeier, however, who coolly placed the ball into the left corner of the net for her third goal of the season.
After halftime, the Bears stepped up their play and kept constant pressure on the Webster defense. WashU’s Emma Brown ripped a shot from 25 yards out for the Bears’ first goal, and Lauren Steimle found the back of the net in the 57th minute.
Brown scored her second goal of the match four minutes later to put WashU up 3-1. Jessica Johnson completed the scoring in the 87th minute. Davis said the Bears pushed harder in the second half because of their one-goal deficit.
“The main difference was that because WashU was down, they had more drive to get their goal back,” Davis said. “I feel we played as strongly as we could.”
Next up for the Gorloks is an Oct. 12 conference game at Fontbonne University at 8 p.m. Webster defeated the Griffins 3-0 on Sept. 7 in a nonconference game. The Gorloks then travel to Jacksonville, Ill., to take on MacMurray College on Oct. 15.
The Gorloks have six regular season games remaining on their schedule, all of which are SLIAC contests. The top four finishers in the SLIAC advance to the postseason tournament, which begins on Nov. 3.
Hutchison said the loss to WashU should ultimately help the Gorloks in the stretch run of their season.
“Just the confidence and the knowledge that we can play with the best teams in the country,” Hutchison said. “I guess the other good thing we can take from this is our offensive movement off the ball and our ability to string together key passes was actually a lot better than it has been.
“It shows that some of the things we’ve worked on in practice are taking hold. Everybody’s getting used to their roles, their positioning and the timing of the runs. I think that offensively, we should see an upward trend as the rest of the season goes on.”