November 29, 2020

Women’s soccer NCAA Division III tournament Round 1 preview

Webster University’s women’s soccer team will take on three-time national champion and 2011 national runner-up Wheaton College in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Gorloks will travel to Wheaton — located 25 miles west of Chicago — to play the Thunder on Friday, Nov. 9 at 11 a.m.

The Gorloks (16-5 overall record) won their fifth St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament title to earn an automatic bid to the national tournament. Webster will make its ninth national tournament appearance in program history, and first since 2009. Webster owns a 2-8 record in national tournament games.

Wheaton College (Ill.) Thunder

Wheaton (17-3-2 overall record) won the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin tournament to claim a spot in the national tourney. The Thunder have qualified for 16 national tournaments in a row and have compiled 41 victories in the tourney. They won national championships in 2004, 2006 and 2007.

Webster and Wheaton have met twice before in postseason play. In 2002, Wheaton beat the Gorloks 3-1. And in 2005, the Thunder rolled to a 5-0 victory over Webster. The Gorloks enter the contest having won 10 of their past 12 games. The Thunder, ranked tied-22nd in Division III, have won five of their last six games.

“If we go (to Wheaton) and execute the way we have all season long — both offensively, defensively — we feel good about our opportunities,” said Luigi Scire, Webster women’s soccer coach. “It’s all about once that whistle blows, you go out there and you let it all hang out on the field, and you’ll find out who the better team is. We go in there with a positive attitude. We’ll be mentally tough. And physically, we’ll give them everything we have.”

Webster and Wheaton have several common opponents this year. The Gorloks defeated SLIAC opponent Principia College 1-0, while the Thunder beat Principia 2-1 in double overtime.

Webster fell 2-0 to Washington University, while Wheaton defeated WashU 4-0. Webster knocked off Elmhurst College 1-0, while Wheaton and Elmhurst tied 0-0. Both Webster and Wheaton trounced North Central College.

Scire said he spoke with WashU’s coach on Monday, Nov. 5 to gain more insight about Wheaton’s squad. Principia’s coach gave Scire film of the Wheaton-Principia game, and Scire said he and his players will watch that to prepare for the Thunder.

“As I told the players (on Nov. 5), we change nothing,” Scire said. “We’ve been very successful in terms of our approach, our execution. And just because we go into the NCAA tournament doesn’t mean we’re going to modify or change anything that we do. We go out there and we continue to execute the way we’ve done all season long and see what happens. … We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

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