December 1, 2020

Tie one on: Draw gives Webster men’s soccer No. 1 seed

The Webster University men’s soccer team traveled to Greenville College (Ill.) for the regular-season finale on Saturday, Oct. 27. Greenville beat Webster twice last year — the second of which knocked the Gorloks out of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament in the final round.

After a full 90 minutes and two 10-minute overtime periods, the final score read 2-2 and mathematically gave the Gorloks their first regular-season SLIAC title since 2006 — the fifth in program history since Webster started SLIAC play in 1990. Webster ended the regular season with a 10-5-2 overall record and a 6-1-1 mark in conference play.

Senior striker Clint Carder prepares to kick the ball during a practice on Monday, Oct. 29 at St. Louis Soccer Park. Carder scored his sixth goal of the season in a 2-2 tie at Greenville College on Saturday, Oct. 27. PHOTO BY DAVID NASH.

Senior midfielder Agustin Villalba was a member of last year’s squad, which lost to Greenville in the conference championship. With memories of last year’s losses still in his mind, he was excited to succeed on Greenville’s turf.

“I remember last year when we lost. I had a sick feeling,” Villalba said. “I remembered that sick feeling and tried to work it out to win today. It was a great game even though we tied. It was awesome celebrating on their pitch. It was the best.”

Coach Marty Todt, who has coached the Gorloks since 1988, said after the game he is as proud as he could be of his team.

“This was probably one of the most difficult schedules that we put together in about 25 years,” Todt said. “To finish up 10-5-2, win the conference, it’s just a credit to each and every one of these guys. We’ve got 28 guys on the team, and it’s a total team effort.”

Webster opened the scoring in its regular-season finale in the 17th minute. Senior striker Clint Carder knocked an unassisted goal, his sixth of the season, into the net to give the Gorloks a 1-0 lead on Greenville.

The lead held up until the 33rd minute, when Greenville knotted the game at one goal each. The Gorloks and Panthers headed into halftime tied 1-1.

After 65 minutes of play, Greenville midfielder Sean McQuillan put the Panthers on top 2-1 with his fourth goal of the season. Webster trailed on the road, but Todt said he knew the Gorloks used the tough season’s experience to stay in the game.

“They’ve just continued to bring it each game,” Todt said. “Each game seems to be grittier. They go down; they come back. They were down 2-1; it would have been easy to give up at that point in the second half.”

After giving Villalba a quick rest on the sidelines, Todt talked to the midfielder and told him to mark Greenville’s No. 24 — McQuillan — when he came back into the game.

Barely a minute after returning to play after a quick rest, Villalba netted his first goal of the season, unassisted, to even up the score at 2-2. Villalba said he felt excited to score the game-tying goal.

“I was very happy, because you always want to win, but we knew a tie was enough to give us first place,” Villalba said. “It was the first time we got first place in a long time, so I’m very excited.”

After the goal, sophomore goalie Brian Woodward came up with a big save to keep it a tie game in the second half.

“It was an awesome save,” Todt said. “From the side, it looked like it was going in, and he just got up there and tipped it over the top.”

After the Gorloks gutted out two overtime periods, the SLIAC crown was theirs. The title gives Webster home-field advantage and the No. 1 seed in the SLIAC tournament. The Gorloks’ first game of the postseason will be against Fontbonne University (12-5-2, 5-3 SLIAC) at St. Louis Soccer Park on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m.

Webster beat Fontbonne 2-0 at home earlier this year. The other two teams to earn a spot in the tournament are Greenville and Westminster College (Mo.).

The next match could be the last collegiate soccer game for Villalba, and that gives him mixed feelings.

“It’s pretty sad,” Villalba said. “I’m excited, because you could end it in the right way with a conference championship, but on the other hand, it’s always tough when you can’t play the sport you love anymore. … It’s not about the playing time, but it’s the whole team experience — hanging out with the guys every day at practice.”

Next on the Gorloks’ schedule are the Fontbonne Griffins. Todt said the team will continue to work on restarts and try to take advantage of the speed of the game Webster likes to play on its home pitch.

“It’s kind of that home-cooking type of thing,” Todt said. “It’s going to be good to be home. I think it’s going to be a big difference.

“They should be ready for just about anything, because I think they’ve seen everything this year. To get them to be focused and locked in, as a coaching staff that’s going to be our job.”

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