WHEATON, Ill. — There will be no mystery in the offseason for the Webster University women’s soccer team. Everything it had this season will be back for a second chance.
A 4-0 loss to No. 11-ranked Wheaton College (Ill.) in the first round of the NCAA Division-III tournament on Friday, Nov. 9 ended the 2012 Gorlok campaign.
The Gorloks ended the season as the No. 8 team in the Central Region. Webster took Alma College (Mich.) — then No. 4 in the region — to overtime on Sept. 2 and in the next game beat and shutout the regional No. 6 team, Elmhurst College (Ill.) on Sept. 8.
Against teams in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, it was an almost perfect season for Webster. The Gorloks only gave up one goal in games against conference opponents, and scored 37 in those 10 games, going 9-1.
Even with the loss in the NCAA tournament, coach Luigi Scire didn’t have to say good-bye to any seniors. Most coaches would face dilemmas such as replacing seniors, filling team holes and finding out who could step up as the new team captains.
Webster didn’t have any seniors and doesn’t expect to lose any players next year. The Gorloks already have three captains with a season of leadership experience under their belt.
Scire expects midfielder Ally Nikolaus, defender Kristen Muehlenfeld, and midfielder Katie Aubuchon — all juniors — to again take the role of captains, but this time as seniors.
“I could not have chosen three better players to be leaders this year,” Scire said. “That’s one thing I don’t have to worry about. I already know those three will again lead the way in 2013, and I don’t think anyone would object to that.”
Even after the final game of the season, Nikolaus already has herself and the team looking forward to next year.
“We already got our sights on next year,” Nikolaus said. “This just puts fuel in our fire. We have new players coming in, too, so we’re definitely hoping to get a rematch next year.”
The list of returning players continues.
Next season the Gorloks expect back sophomore goalie Jessica Davis, the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference save percentage (.894) and goals against (14) leader and Webster record-holder for most shutouts in a season with 14.
[pullquote] “I could not have chosen three better players to be leaders this year. That’s one thing I don’t have to worry about. I already know those three will again lead the way in 2013, and I don’t think anyone would object to that.” — Luigi Scire, women’s soccer coach [/pullquote]
Davis said she and the team already have a new goal to get right back to the NCAA tournament with a SLIAC championship again next season.
“We just have another motivation for next year to work harder and get back to this tournament and try to make it through the first round,” Davis said. “That’s our new goal and we’re going to work hard through the offseason.”
To follow Davis’ 2011 SLIAC Newcomer of the Year award, freshman forward Lauren Pratt kept the award in Gorlok hands for the second year. Pratt also was named a member of the Second Team All-Conference. Her 10 goals and seven assists this season put her tied for fourth in the SLIAC in points.
Pratt is not only looking forward to returning with all her teammates next season, but also is excited to see all that can be accomplished in the rest of her career at Webster. The nine freshmen this season accounted for 28 of the team’s 64 goals.
“We’ve talked about how well we all play together and how we have meshed this season,” Pratt said. “In the next three years, I think we’ll stay connected and work well.”
Scire sees the team’s youth and returning players as an advantage and fuel for the women’s soccer program next season.
“We were the youngest team in our conference,” Scire said. “There is no one who can say they’ve got the entire team coming back next year. With that, we are all excited knowing that we will only get better and the goals will be set even higher.”