Twice junior Lauren Pratt leaped as her legs nearly gave out from under her. Each time senior Kristin Montgomery caught her in celebration of both the Webster University Women’s Soccer team’s goals on Nov. 5 in the semi-final of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) tournament.
The Gorloks advanced to their third straight SLIAC championship game with a 2-1 victory over Westminster College. All three goals came in the second half and the game winner with fewer than nine minutes remaining.
A clearance from defender Ashley Mess sent forwards Pratt and Kayla Dye in a race from half field with Westminster defenders, who unsuccessfully called for offsides on the play. The freshman Dye, gave space to Pratt who needed only two touches and a flick with the outside of her right foot to beat the outstretched keeper.
Montgomery trailed the play, but was first to reach Pratt at the penalty spot. It was second time the two locked arms in the game due to Montgomery’s goal in the 57th minute, which Pratt assisted.
“Me and Pratt have always had that connection,” Montgomery said. “Whatever ball she plays is right on my feet. And she is just the first person I saw and I gave her a big hug.”
The play ended with an unconventional give-and-go between Montgomery and Pratt. The cross from senior Whitney Scott was redirected to the back post by the head of Montgomery and Pratt took the ball off the bounce and sent it across the face of goal. Montgomery had to slide in front a defender inside the six-yard box and slotted one in the low right corner of the net.
“That was probably one of most rewarding assists I’ve ever had,” Pratt said. “I was just weak in the knees and my knees literally gave out. It was just awesome.”
Scott’s effort on the front end of the play was a microcosm of the number of loose balls she ran down on both the offensive and defensive side of the field. The man-to-man style of Head Coach Luigi Scire often takes Scott into the attack on turnovers and quick transitions. Montgomery’s goal was started by Scott first beating the Westminster keeper to near the edge of the 18-yard box. Then saving it from rolling over the endline before gathering herself and sending in a ball directly to a Montgomery’s head.
“I just wanted to get a good ball in to get us going,” Scott said. “Those are exciting games for me when I can get up into the play. I got to make more runs in and be more of a threat.”
Scott had the keeper beat early in second half with the game scoreless. Her header from 10 yards out was blocked inside six by Montgomery and the rebound was gathered by Westminster.
“I was like ‘that’s just my luck’’,” Scott said. “But (Montgomery) has made so many of my assists so I can’t even be made about that.”
The SLIAC title game will be a rematch of 2013’s championship game with Principia College beating Fontbonne University 1-0 on Nov. 5. The Gorloks handled Principia last year winning 4-1 and on to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.
Webster hopes to make it three on Friday night at 7pm at Soccer Park.