RIVER FOREST, Ill. — Coach Marty Todt of the Webster University men’s soccer team said it again and again this season. He said his roster of 28 players is “blue-collared,” and the men on the squad create a group effort and work hard.
“Those types of teams don’t come along very often,” Todt said. “You wish for that, you hope it, you try to mold it, but when it happens — again a credit to this group of seniors — you just don’t want it to end.”
Senior midfielder David Doggendorf said he agreed with his coach 100 percent.
“We didn’t have any stars on this team,” Doggendorf said. “Everybody got in every game, which is an amazing thing. Marty came up to me a couple of times saying, ‘I’ve never had this before. I like it so much better than having stars.’ This is the most well-rounded team I’ve ever played for in my four years here.”
The Gorloks were defeated on Friday, Nov. 9 in Round 1 of the NCAA Division III tournament. Webster lost to Dominican University 3-1 after a rough three-and-a-half minute stretch in the second half in which the Gorloks surrendered three unanswered goals.
“Mentally, when you get to this level, over the years you see that,” Todt said. “Whether it’s a referee’s call, a bad bounce, teams at the level that we’re playing at respond to that type of thing. This team’s (Dominican) been to the tournament a number of years in a row, and that’s what was so great about us playing the ranked teams we did this year.”
By the end of the season, Webster played three teams ranked in the Division III Top 25: Dominican, Wheaton College (Ill.) and Loras College (Iowa). Throughout the year, Webster coaches and players commented on how tough the regular-season games were for the Gorloks.
The 2012 season started out with somewhat of a revenge win for the Gorloks. Webster beat Lindenwood University-Belleville 2-0 on Sept. 1 after losing to the Lynx last season. The Gorloks then took on the Loras Duhawks at St. Louis Soccer Park on Sept. 8. Though Webster fell 4-1, sophomore midfielder Mike Wells, a transfer from Greenville College (Ill.), scored the first goal the Duhawks had given up to that point. Loras ended the regular season ranked fourth in the country.
On Sept. 22, Webster played Wheaton and fought the Thunder to a 1-1 draw after double overtime. Wheaton finished up the regular season at No. 15 in the nation.
“The game when we tied Wheaton, that was a huge one,” Doggendorf said.
Webster started St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play on Oct. 3 with a 4-0 victory over Blackburn College (Ill.). Webster, the eventual conference champions in the regular season and in the conference tournament, went 6-1-1 in SLIAC contests. The Gorloks took down Fontbonne University and Westminster College in the SLIAC tournament.
There may not have been any “stars” on the squad this year, but there were team leaders in statistics. Wells led the team in goals scored with eight, and senior defender Kyle Leonard led the Gorloks with four assists. Sophomore goalie Brian Woodward earned a .791 save percentage, best in the SLIAC in 2012.
Doggendorf said he feels the underclassmen will be able to take the seniors’ leadership positions next year.
“There are a lot of good players that are still in the program,” Doggendorf said. “This experience that they went through this year is going to help them for the next seasons. There are a lot of guys coming back that are going to be able to step up and take care of business.”
[pullquote]“Those types of teams don’t come along very often. You wish for that, you hope it, you try to mold it, but when it happens — again a credit to this group of seniors — you just don’t want it to end.” — Marty Todt, men’s soccer coach [/pullquote]
The loss to Dominican meant the end of the road for 13 players. Senior midfielder Agustin Villalba said he couldn’t have asked for better teammates to end his Webster men’s soccer career.
“I’m just so proud of all the guys,” Villalba said. “Even though we lost today (Nov. 9), we could have won. I think during the whole season, we showed them the great team we are.”
Doggendorf said the other seniors will still be a part of his life even after he graduates this year.
“It’s four years of my life. There are a lot of emotions,” he said. “It was a hard feeling knowing that I’m never going to play with them again. But, at the same time, I knew we had one of the best season’s ever here at Webster, and I was happy to be a part of it.”
Todt said this year’s group of seniors will always have a place in his heart as he moves toward his 26th year as men’s soccer head coach.
“When you lose those seniors, it’s like ripping out a part of your heart and taking it with them,” Todt said as he touched his chest.
“We came together in August; 28 guys had no clue what we were going to do or where we were going to go. I just love this group. The ride we had, the conference, the ranked teams we’ve played — the toughest schedule we’ve ever put together, to get this far and to have that opportunity is just awesome. It’s like a kid going to Disney World — you don’t want to get off the frigging ride.”