Stingy defense helps women’s soccer secure SLIAC championship

Webster University junior midfielder Ally Nikolaus (20) clutches junior defender Kristen Muehlenfeld after Nikolaus buried a goal against Greenville College on Friday, Nov. 2 at St. Louis Soccer Park. Nikolaus’ second-half tally was all the Gorloks needed in their 1-0 victory in the SLIAC tournament championship game. For her efforts, Nikolaus was named MVP of the SLIAC tournament. PHOTO BY JOSH SELLMEYER.

The Webster University women’s soccer team will be dancing in the NCAA Division III tournament as the Gorloks finished off the Greenville College Panthers 1-0 on Friday, Nov. 2 in the conference tournament championship at St. Louis Soccer Park.

The Webster women’s soccer program has appeared nine times in the national tournament. The last time was in 2009 when the Gorloks lost 2-1 to Washington University in overtime. WashU ended up in the national championship game before losing to Messiah College.

Junior midfielder Ally Nikolaus, MVP of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament, scored her 11th goal of the season 16 minutes into the second half. The score remained the same as the Gorlok defense and sophomore goalkeeper Jessica Davis held on and recorded yet another shutout — Davis’ 14th in 2012.

It was Nikolaus’ fourth game-winning goal of the year. Prior to the game, the Gorloks were eager to play as they found themselves in the same boat as last year when they faced Greenville in the SLIAC tournament. Webster lost 2-1 last year to the Panthers in the semis and didn’t want that to happen in back-to-back seasons, especially on home turf.

“I was very nervous, because it was a big game,” Davis said. “Greenville had just upset Principia, and last year we lost to Greenville in the tournament, so I was nervous. I think everyone else was nervous but also very excited to play. We wanted to show them it was our time to win, and we didn’t want them to take it away from us.”

Nikolaus said coach Luigi Scire wanted the Gorloks to keep up the dominant pace while continuing to work hard.

“The team has definitely stepped up in the past couple weeks. Luigi expected us to work harder,” Nikolaus said. “We knew we would have to continue to remember all of the hard work we put in during the year to make sure we got a win on Friday night, and that’s exactly what we did.”

With no seniors on the team this year, the juniors have had to step up into leadership roles. Davis said she admires the hard work captains Nikolaus, Kristen Muehlenfeld and Katie Aubuchon have put in for the team on and off the field.

“It’s mainly about chemistry,” Davis said. “As a whole team, we mesh very well together. Our three junior captains are extremely good leaders — everyone looks up to them greatly.

“Even after Katie Aubuchon went down after her ACL injury, we still look up to her greatly just because the strength that she shows working through her injury.”

The Gorloks will travel to the Chicago area to play Wheaton College (lll.) on Friday, Nov. 9 at 11 a.m. Wheaton is ranked tied- 22nd nationally and was the runner-up in last year’s national championship. If Webster wins, the Gorloks will play Saturday, Nov. 10 at 5 p.m. against either the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater or Wittenberg University (Ohio).

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