Photos by Megan Favignano/The Journal
When a senior’s collegiate soccer career comes to an end, Associate Men’s Soccer Head Coach Marty Todt wants his seniors to receive closure from the game. Senior forward Pat McCaffrey, Todt’s nephew, said he didn’t feel closure after the Webster University Gorloks fell to the Westminster College Blue Jays, 2-1 in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Championship.
“I work my whole life for the moment like this,” McCaffrey said. “I didn’t take (the SLIAC championship) home. That’s closure to me. But I think rest of the team did all they could to help me get to the NCAA tournament.”
McCaffrey said the biggest thing he takes away from his collegiate soccer career is the friends and family he’s made along the way.
Westminster received SLIAC’s automatic berth in the NCAA Division III men’s soccer tournament after it defeated the Gorloks on Nov. 8.
One minute into the match,Webster junior midfielder Mike Wells was called for a handball, resulting in a Westminster penalty kick. Westminster sophomore Samuel Lopez blasted the penalty kick in the upper left corner of the net to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead. McCaffrey said the first goal of the game set the tone for the first half, and the team couldn’t generate any momentum.
“We really couldn’t get it going until the second half,” McCaffrey said.
With five minutes remaining in the first half, Westminster forward Jacob Appelbaum fired a shot from the top of the box past Webster goalkeeper Brian Woodward to give the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead.
“We (normally) capitalize on our opportunities,” Woodward said. “Had some certain calls been certain ways, it would have been a tied game at the end. And that’s what hurts the most.”
Three minutes into the second half, Webster forward Kris Brown threw the ball in, took one bounce to Webster forward Alex Whalen. Whalen headed in his second goal of the SLIAC tournament to cut the Blue Jay deficit down to one goal. Because of Whalen’s two goals, he was named to the 2013 SLIAC All-Tournament team.
“The ball came right to me,” Whalen said. “So I tried to head it into the far corner, and I guess one of their defenders tried to head it out. It was already in by the time he tried to head it out.”
Assistant Men’s Soccer Coach Jurgen Rama said the team did what they were asked to do in the game.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Rama said. “It’s just tough sometimes. Somebody’s got to lose. This time it happened to be us.”
Last season, the Gorloks lost 13 seniors. Woodward said the men’s soccer team has a great opportunity ahead of them next season because they were able to make the SLIAC Championship despite losing 13 seniors. Woodward thinks the team is capable of going to the NCAA Tournament next season.
“If we can make it to the final after losing 13 (senior) role models, we can make it to the final again after losing three.” Woodward said.