The ending has become too familiar in the eyes of the Webster University Women’s Soccer team. A loss for the third straight year in the first round of the NCAA Championship Tournament was the final game for seven Gorlok seniors.
The Webster University Women’s Soccer team was eliminated for the third consecutive season in the first round of the NCAA Division-III Championship Tournament. But Junior Forward Lauren Pratt said this time it was a little more aggravating.
Webster went into the game at the University of Chicago with an advantage compared to 2012 and 2013, because they were not facing the No. 1 seed in the region in Wheaton College (Ill.). The Gorloks fell to Wheaton both times with the same score of 4-0 in each game.
“Wheaton we knew was a better team than us,” Pratt said. “But Chicago, we could have had them.”
Webster lost 1-0 to Chicago on scramble for the ball in front of Webster’s net in the 41st minute. Senior Goalie Jessica Davis said she dove twice and was inches from blocking the cross inside the six-yard box. Then her and down defenders collided as they were half a step behind the Chicago goal scorer to win the loose ball.
Pratt said just because they were one chance away from taking the game to overtime it made the tournament loss harder to take than past years.
“It was such an emotional loss and I had the tears,” Pratt said. “When I saw the seniors sink to their knees in the last 10 seconds of the game it ran through my head that this is me next year.”
Seven seniors ended their collegiate careers, five of whom were a part of more wins than any other women’s player in Webster history. Davis, who won 43 games in four seasons, is credited with the school record for wins. She also bested the men’s record of 27 careers wins held by current senior Brian Woodward.
“I had some damn good defense,” Davis said. “That record goes to all of them as well but it’s a good feeling to put my stamp on the Webster soccer team.”
Davis’s career, which began with her winning the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Newcomer of the Year in 2011, has been supported by award-winning teammates.. Five defenders were First-Team All Conference, twice the SLIAC Player of the Year came from Webster and two SLIAC Newcomers of the Year, not including herself, shared the field with Davis.
Davis said the one thing she missed in her career was a tough competition for starting goalie. Since her freshman year she was able to beat out all any teammates, and her sophomore year was the only goalie on the roster. Davis’s senior year she served as a mentor to two freshmen keepers who will begin their battle to be the starter next season in Rachel Ainsworth and Robin Blome.
“It’s nice to know the (goalie) position is in good hands moving forward,” Davis said. “It was nice to help them learn the position better and their competitiveness will drive them to become really talented players.”
Also making sure the team continues to grow in talent will be one of next years senior captains, Pratt. She was one of the four captains this year along with fellow Junior Ashley Mess and said that experience makes the transition easier for them.
“The goals won’t change from this year to make the second round of the NCAA Tournament,” Pratt said. “We will just make sure the team will really work for each other and not for yourself.”
In reaching that goal Webster could become the first SLIAC Women’s Soccer Team to win four straight conference tournaments. But Pratt said her and her two teammates who would share in four straight championships, Mess and Jessica Mess, haven’t thought about the record.
“There is always that pressure if you don’t win it then it’s over,” Pratt said. “We just have to not take any game lightly because if we don’t show up against maybe Iowa Wesleyan then it’s anyone’s game.”
The Gorloks expect to return 18 underclassmen next year including eight of their top 10 scorers from this season.