Senior defender Tyler Thomas felt sick the entire week before Webster University’s St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) semifinal against Fontbonne University on Nov. 5. After nearly every run he made in the game, he said he felt like he was going to throw up. Thomas played every minute in Webster’s 0-1 defeat to Fontbonne up to and including the final moments of the second overtime.
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 to give Fontbonne the win. The loss ended Webster’s season. Thomas said that fatigue played a part in the final play.
“My legs were really tired,” Thomas said. “I don’t even know how I got off the ground to barely hit that ball.”
Thomas said that he had wanted to come out of the game. Head men’s soccer coach Mike Siener said he did consider giving Thomas a break earlier in the game.
“We were thinking about taking him off (early in the first half)” Siener said. “(Thomas) seemed to be OK and he wasn’t playing poorly enough for us to make that decision, so we felt like he was fine.”
Siener did say that in hindsight, if he had taken Thomas out for a taller player, the play and the game might have turned out differently.
Thomas had found himself in the middle of one of the game’s crucial moments earlier as well as an altercation with Fontbonne forward Austin Willenbrock. Play had to be stopped in the 58th 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 after the game. “He swiped me right in the face. Usually you get a red card for hitting anybody in the face.”
Coach Siener agreed with Thomas’ assessment, even though his sight was limited from the bench.
“Anytime even when there is an open fist like that, it’s typically a red card,” Siener said.
Fontbonne Coach Brian Hoener said that he would not have been surprised to see his player receive a red card on the play.
“The ref would not have received an argument from me, if it (the call) had gone one way or another,” Hoener said.
Willenbrock was not sent off and Fontbonne remained at full strength and went on to win.
A Senior-heavy team.
Senior forward Mike Wells knocked in five game-winning goals during his time at Webster since he transferred from Greenville College as a freshman. He scored his fifth and final game-winning goal against Fontbonne in a regular season game a week before the semifinal. Wells curled a left-footed corner kick directly into the goal.
In the 64th minute of Webster’s loss to Fontbonne, Wells fired a free kick off the crossbar, coming within inches of netting what could have been his sixth game-winner.
“As soon as I hit it, I had a feeling it was going to hit the bar,” Wells said. “I knew I hit it well, but probably not good enough to get it in the back of the net.”
Wells, like 14 other seniors on the men’s squad, will never play another game for Webster. He said that the large senior contingent, within an even larger squad made for difficult moments for some seniors.
“I think just having so many players on the team in general made it hard on the seniors,” Wells said. “Some of them didn’t get the chance that they probably deserved.”
One of the most difficult moments of the season was when senior midfielder Taylor Overstreet broke his leg in a game against MacMurray College on Oct. 14. Wells said that Overstreet was his best friend in college. Near the end of the season Wells began to wear Overstreet’s undershirt—a white shirt with a red “X” on the front and the inscription “T-Wolf #1” on the back. He said that if he had scored he would have removed his shirt in celebration.