The Webster University women’s soccer team appeared to be on a collision course for a rematch with No. 1-seeded Principia College in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament final.
A driving rainstorm, a hard foul and Greenville College got in the way of the rematch. Greenville shocked Webster 2-1 in the SLIAC semifinals on Nov. 3 at the Soccer Park, which ended the Gorloks’ season.
It was only the second time in 12 years that the Panthers beat the Gorloks. Webster had won 18 of its 19 previous games against Greenville.
“It’s pretty upsetting because it shouldn’t have ended that way for our seniors,” sophomore midfielder Ally Nikolaus said. “The weather was a factor.”
Game conditions were poor, as a steady rainfall and high winds contributed to sloppy play. Webster was still able to control the ball in the first half, but couldn’t put any shots in the goal.
“We had our chances but just couldn’t score,” sophomore midfielder Katie Aubuchon said.
Just four minutes into the second half of a scoreless match, the game took a dramatic turn when Aubuchon was fouled hard and knocked out of the contest by Greenville sophomore Claire Conwell-Vargas.
“I thought that girl knocked her out,” Nikolaus said. “She punched her and head-butted her. (Conwell-Vargas) should have been out of the game for that hit.”
Aubuchon broke her nose and lost a tooth on the play, but Conwell-Vargas received only a yellow card for the infraction. The play led to a protest by Webster coach Luigi Scire, who wanted Conwell-Vargas to receive a red card.
Aubuchon was taken to a hospital and was released after being cleared of a concussion.
Video by Sam Masterson
Despite losing one of their top players, the Gorloks struck first when senior midfielder Lindsey Owens scored off a pass from senior midfielder Amanda Zeier at the 59:17 mark.
After that, Webster lost some of its aggressive play, and Greenville took control of the game.
“We just lost it after Katie went down,” Nikolaus said.
Greenville tied the score at 1 on a shot that skidded past freshman goalkeeper Jessica Davis.
“On a normal day, that’s an easy play for Jessica,” Nikolaus said. “The ball was so slippery.”
The Panthers got the winning goal later in the second half off a corner kick play. That goal ended the Gorloks’ chance at the championship.
“I’ll never forget it,” Nikolaus said. “I had a perfect opportunity to save a goal, but it just rolled slowly in. I just couldn’t get to it.”
Senior defender Izzy Sherfy said there were a lot of tears of disappointment after the game.
“It was a very bad loss,” Sherfy said. “We had the right mindset on the game, but maybe in the back of our minds we wanted Principia so bad. It may have had an effect.”
Webster concluded the season with a record of 12-6-1. The Gorloks finished second in the SLIAC regular-season standings at 7-1. Webster’s only conference loss came in a home game against Principia.
Eight Gorloks earned spots on the 2011 SLIAC All-Conference team. Sherfy, Nikolaus and senior midfielder Morgan Milfeld were all named to the first team. Aubuchon was selected to the second team.
Davis, who was named the SLIAC’s Newcomer of the Year, was among four freshmen who earned an All-Conference honorable mention. Joining Davis was forward Kristin Montgomery, midfielder Whitney Scott and defender Amy Schield.
Seniors Brittany Senator, Candice Evans, Jordan Geller, Milfeld, Owens, Sherfy and Zeier finished their careers at Webster after the early exit in the tournament.
Aubuchon said all the 18 returning players can do now is wait until next year for another chance to take on Greenville.
“It was devastating to lose this way,” Aubuchon said. “Next year, I’m going to show Conwell-Vargas we can win, and you don’t have to take someone out to do it.”