Webster University senior defender Tyler Thomas played a central part in two pivotal moments of Webster’s 1-0 defeat to Fontbonne University in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament (SLIAC) semifinal.
On what proved to be the final play of the game, Thomas was unable to head a long ball squarely when it sailed toward him in his defensive position. The ball then bounced to the feet of Fontbonne forward Ryan Dudley. Dudley controlled the ball and smashed the low bouncing ball from beyond the penalty box and into the net past Webster goalkeeper Ian McReynolds. Only four minutes remained in the second overtime when Dudley scored. Thomas, who felt ill before the game, said that fatigue played a factor on the final play.
Webster completed an unbeaten SLIAC regular season just five days earlier, with a 1-0 defeat of Fontbonne.
Earlier, Thomas found himself involved in an altercation with Fontbonne forward Austin Willenbrock. Play had to be stopped in the 58 minute and Thomas was visibly upset and removed his shirt in frustration. Willenbrock received a yellow card for his part in the incident, while Thomas received no punishment.
“He (Willenbrock) should have been (sent off),” Thomas said. “He swiped me right in the face. Usually you get a red card for hitting anybody in the face.”
Willenbrock was not sent off and Fontbonne remained at full strength. With the win, Fontbonne will face Westminster College in the SLIAC title game for a chance to reach the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Webster had held home field advantage for the SLIAC tournament, but with this loss their season is over. This also signals an end to the college careers of the 15 seniors on the squad.
Senior Mike Wells has been on a SLIAC championship winning side before, and the loss in the semifinals was his first such defeat with Webster. Wells wore an undershirt decorated with a red “X” on the front and “T-Wolf #1” on the back in homage to injured teammate, senior Taylor Overstreet.
“I just use this shirt as a remembrance of him when we play,” Wells said.
Wells said that if he had scored in the game he would have removed his jersey to display the undershirt to the crowd. He said he considered removing his shirt when he scored against Fontbonne, earlier in the season.
Wells came closest to scoring for Webster when he hit the bar from a free kick in the 64 minute. Sophomore Alex Whalen also missed a chance from close range in the 82 minute.
The Gorloks finish the year with a 10-9-2 mark. The loss to Fontbonne was their first and only defeat against conference opposition.