The Webster University men’s soccer team’s unlikely quest for the St. Louis Intercollegiate Conference championship and an NCAA Division III playoff berth came to an end with a 2-0 loss at Greenville College on Nov. 5.
The fourth-seeded Gorloks had upset top-seeded Westminster College three days earlier to reach the final. But Greenville, which had defeated Webster 1-0 in a regular season game earlier in the year, proved too tough a task for the Gorloks.
“Before the game, I told the guys, ‘You are 90 minutes away from the NCAA tournament bid.’ But we just came out flat,” Webster coach Marty Todt said. “I think being young and never being in this position before was a factor.”
Webster carried 12 new players and 8 freshmen on this year’s team. There were only four seniors on the squad.
“It was a growing year,” Todt said. “We had 11 one-goal games this year. My guys figured out how to stay in the game, but they just need to learn to bring it home. They will do that with experience.”
Webster mistakes contributed to two first-half goals for Greenville. Both goals were scored off free kicks after Webster fouls. Senior goalkeeper Alex Cupp said the Gorloks did not come out ready to play.
“Greenville hustled and wanted it more than we did, especially in the first half,” Cupp said. “We had an emotional letdown after the big first-round win over Westminster. But Greenville outplayed us and deserved to win.”
Although the Gorloks played with more intensity in the second half, they came up short. The story was once again the same, as Webster could not find the back of the net. It was the eighth time this year the Gorloks were shut out.
“We really couldn’t put anything together,” junior forward Clint Carder said. “I had a man marked on me the entire game, and I had another guy playing behind me just to make sure. It’s hard to create an offense all by yourself.”
Webster finished the season at 8-9-2, and went 4-3-1 in SLIAC play. The Gorloks lost three conference games to Fontbonne University, Greenville and Westminster by the same 1-0 score.
Webster allowed only seven goals in eight conference games. The defense was led by junior defender Josh Sellmeyer, who was the lone Gorlok to make the All-Conference first team.
“The defense has been our strength all season,” Todt said. “Next year, we will score.”
Junior midfielder Kyle Leonard was named to the All-Conference second team, while Carder earned an honorable mention.
Four seniors played in their final games at Webster: Cupp, Shea Vogt, Bryan Enger and Dominic DeVasto. Webster can look forward to having the majority of its roster back next year.
“If they don’t win conference next season, I’ll be surprised,” Cupp said. “They are only going to get better.”
Carder said the Gorloks will do conditioning drills and play a lot of soccer in the offseason.
“By next year, some of these younger guys will be able to fill in roles where other players have left,” Carder said. “It will be great next year.”
Todt, who will be returning for his 25th season at the helm in 2012, said he will recruit five to six key players in the offseason. But he is happy with the makeup of his team for next season.
“I am excited about having 22 returning players for next year,” Todt said. “It gives me goose bumps thinking about how good we can be.”