Freshman steps in for Webster’s All-Conference goalkeeper

PHOTO BY JORDAN PALMER/The Journal Freshman Rachael Ainsworth tosses the ball at practice at Soccer Park in Fenton.

Senior goalkeeper Jessica Davis was doing her best to make the most of her senior season at Webster University. Davis had allowed only one goal in four games between Aug. 30 and Sept. 10 and was named the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Defensive Player of the Week.

During her four years at Webster, Davis has been a part of two St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship teams, and led the SLIAC in save percentage (.853) as a sophomore. Davis even played as a freshman and did not allow a goal for 486 minutes and seven seconds during a stretch in that season.

Davis said that it is even tougher for her to miss games this year because it is her final season at Webster. She has not played since she suffered an ankle injury on Sept. 15.

“I won’t get those games back that I’ve missed so far,” Davis said.

The Gorloks first game after her injury was against the no. 1 ranked Division III team in the country, Washington University.  Webster Freshman goalie Rachael Ainsworth got the start in goal.

“I never had nerves like before I had that game,” Ainsworth said.

Nerves or not, Ainsworth saved 13 shots on goal, the fourth most in Webster history, although Webster lost to Washington University 2-1 on Sept. 19.

Ainsworth said she focused more on the two shots that got past her than the 13 she saved.

“Goals stick in my head,” she said. “Saves don’t.”

Since Ainsworth has taken over in goal, Webster has conceded just five goals in six games. She earned the SLIAC player of the week honor on Sept. 22.

Head Women’s soccer coach Luigi Scire said that he was not surprised with the way Ainsworth has played.

“I recruited her for 18 months. I knew what kind of a keeper she was and how important she could be, not only this year, but in the four year career at Webster,” Scire said.

Though Ainsworth is new to Webster and St. Louis, the freshman from Salt Lake City is used to adapting to new environments. Despite the fact that her high school did not offer an exchange program, Ainsworth’s parents allowed her to go to France in an independent program when she was 16. She stayed with a host family for six months in a small town called Besançon, (which she describes as “cow country”) and became proficient in French.

Once, she played goalie during the halftime show of a game between FC Sochaux and  OGCNice in France’s top professional league. At the time Ainsworth was playing for Entente Roche Novillars, a local club team.

Ainsworth attributes her time in France to helping her adjust to life in college.

“I’m a really independent person,” Ainsworth said.

PHOTO BY JORDAN PALMER/The Journal Senior Jessica Davis stretches on the sidelines during practice at Soccer Park.
Senior Jessica Davis stretches on the sidelines during practice at Soccer Park.

As a goalie, she and Davis spend a lot of time together and have a very good relationship.

“It’s awesome,” Ainsworth said. “I love her (Davis) — she’s awesome. We work together a lot, we practice together, we train together, and we warm each other up. I’m really looking forward for her and Robin (another freshman goalkeeper) to be back.”

Davis said that she and Ainsworth get along very well, and that Ainsworth has a good work ethic and great energy.

“I know that my position will be in good hands once I leave, since I’m a senior,” Davis said. “It’s, like, bittersweet, since I’m training her for my position. I like her a lot though. She’s been a great addition to the team.”

While Scire acknowledged  Davis had been playing very well, he faces a decision when she returns to full fitness. Scire was unwilling to make any commitments about who would get most of the minutes once Davis returns to full strength.

“We’ll see what happens,” Scire said. “Rachael is playing at an extremely high level right now, and like anything else, it’s a competition.”

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