The Gorloks needed a big play. The Webster University men’s soccer team was down 1-0 against Wheaton College (Ill.), the eighth-ranked team in the country, at halftime of a game on Saturday, Sept. 22 at St. Louis Soccer Park.
That big play came in the second half when senior defender Josh Sellmeyer scored the first goal of his Webster career from 25 yards out in the 61st minute. The goal would hold up in the game. The Gorloks eventually tied with Wheaton, 1-1.
“It was a surreal moment for me personally,” Sellmeyer said. “There were so many thoughts running through my head at that time. It was the biggest goal I’ve ever scored in my life. I’ve been playing soccer since I was 5 years old, and I’ve scored several goals, but none bigger than this one in that moment.”
After a Wheaton player partially cleared a corner kick, Sellmeyer stepped up to the ball and blasted it past Wheaton goalie Philip Oster. The goal uplifted the team and ignited the Gorlok fans in the stands. Sellmeyer said he looked over to the fans and players and celebrated.
“Oh, my gosh, that was a great goal,” associate head coach Michael Siener said. “You talk about a goal from a senior that’s a multi-sport, All-Conference player. I’m just proud and happy it was him. He’s a guy that deserves it; he works really hard.”
In order for Sellmeyer to score the game-tying goal, the Gorloks had to play solid defensively. And they did just that.
Besides allowing a goal by Thunder forward Adam Blackmon who rebounded a kick from teammate Marshall Hollingsworth, Wheaton couldn’t capitalize on chances to score. The Thunder outshot the Gorloks 17-1 in the first half and 33-3 overall in the game.
“We tried to play a team defensive game, and got everybody behind the ball,” Siener said. “We knew we’d only have a few opportunities to score. That team is ranked eighth in the country for a reason — they’re very good.”
Sellmeyer said defensively it was as good of a game the team has played in his four years at Webster. Every time the Thunder threatened to put the game away with another goal, the Gorloks would clear the zone or sophomore goalie Brian Woodward would make a save. Woodward was named one of the SLIAC players of the week for his efforts during the game. He made a total of 15 saves for the Gorloks, none bigger than the plunging save in the first overtime to keep the game tied for Webster.
“He made a couple of extraordinary saves,” Sellmeyer said. “It’s as good as I’ve seen him play, and we knew that he’d be up for the challenge. He’s been unbelievable for us so far, and I think he’s going to continue that.”
Another crucial moment for Webster was when senior defender Mickey Dennis received a red card during the 87th minute of the game. The card was issued after Dennis hit a Wheaton player to the ground. The penalty forced the Gorloks to play at a disadvantage throughout both overtime periods, but the Gorloks continued to battle and work together as a team to force a tie against Wheaton.
“I think we were satisfied with that,” senior striker Clint Carder said. “We were playing a man down for (23) minutes, so I think we were pretty impressed by how we handled it.”
Siener said this game assured the players they can keep up with one of the best teams in the country, and the morale boost is something the team needed.
“I would say that this is probably our best game together as a unit,” Siener said. “Collectively as a group, it was a great effort, one of our best efforts of the season.”
The Gorloks lost to William Woods University 2-1 on Thursday, Sept. 20 after leading the game 1-0 until the Owls scored in the 38th minute of the first half.
Webster will be tested again on Wednesday, Sept. 26, as the Gorloks face off against Illinois Wesleyan University at 7 p.m at the Soccer Park. Illinois Wesleyan is currently 6-1 on the season. With the tie against Wheaton, Webster moved to 3-3-1 for the season.
— Editor’s note: Senior defender Josh Sellmeyer is also the copy chief & layout editor for The Journal.