Galaxy radio General Manager Ryan Jecha kicks off his first column with his take on…
Jecha Jabber: “Resurgent veteran fuels Webster University men’s soccer”
The Webster men’s soccer team had an improbable run at the end of its 2011 season. The Gorloks sneaked into the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament on the last day of the regular season and knocked off top-seeded Westminster College in the first round.
They did not complete their quest as they fell short in the championship match, losing to Greenville College 2-0.
The Gorloks return eight starters from last year’s squad for 2012. Bringing back that much of a team that came within one game of winning the conference can give reason for optimism.
I know it’s early in the season, but so far the Gorloks haven’t disappointed. They currently own a 3-2 record. Their first loss came at the hands of Loras College, the fourth-ranked team nationally in NCAA Division III. The Gorloks suffered their second loss this past Saturday when North Central College took advantage of a red card on Webster midfielder Mike Wells and scored the game-winning goal while Webster had one less player on the field.
While it’s a team effort for Webster so far, two key players have stepped up early on. One is a first-year starter looking to make a name for himself. The other are, a reliable veteran and star player seeking a bounce-back year.
Sophomore Brian Woodward is a first-year starter in goal for Webster and has already proven that he is up to the task. Woodward has started all five games for the Gorloks and has recorded shutouts in two of them. His work in net earned him the SLIAC Men’s Soccer Defensive Player of the Week award for the first week of the season.
Woodward spent last season as the backup to Alex Cupp, who graduated last spring. When he did get in goal last season, Woodward posted a save percentage of .675 and allowed an average of 2.12 goals per game (Cupp’s save percentage was .829 last season as he allowed 0.97 goals per game).
In his first year starting, Woodward has improved his numbers as his save percentage sits at .757. He is allowing an average of 1.83 goals per game. And, keep in mind, the Gorloks haven’t faced a SLIAC opponent yet, and Webster’s history of scheduling tough nonconference opponents is well documented.
The other player commanding attention is senior forward Clint Carder. Carder’s sophomore campaign was one of the best Webster ever saw. He posted 15 goals in 2010, a mark that only four other men’s soccer players in Webster’s history have reached.
In 2011, Carder took a step back. He scored only seven goals. He still led the team in goals scored, but did not match the numbers he showed he was capable of during his sophomore season.
Carder looks like he has regained his scoring touch early this year. He leads the team in goals, scoring four in the Gorloks’ first five games. His fast start was recognized as he stood alongside Woodward, earning the first SLIAC Men’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week award of the 2012 season.
If Woodward can keep up his stellar play, and Carder resurrects the potent goal-scoring of 2010, the Gorloks will find themselves primed to make a promising run at the SLIAC title again.