Kayla Dye’s first goal for Webster University came as a substitute in the Gorloks’ first game of the season against Calvin College. At the time, Calvin was ranked 24th in the nation, and the Gorloks trailed 2-1. The goal was a meaningful one.
Dye came on at halftime and felt exhausted from the adrenaline rush of her first game.
“I was so nervous,” Dye said. “And so tired. I was about to put my hand up for a sub, but then I scored.”
Dye made a habit of giant-killing during her freshman campaign. Three weeks later she made her first start and scored against Washington University (St. Louis), the No. 1 ranked team in the country.
On the year Dye scored ten goals and contributed nine assists. Though she only started 16 games, she led the team in points (goals plus assists) and earned the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s third-team All-Central Region honors. She was also named to the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) First Team.
Head Coach Luigi Scire said he believes Dye can become even better in her next three seasons and compared her to some former greats on the women’s soccer team.
“She’s just now scratching the surface,” Scire said. “I think in the next three years you’re going to see Kayla develop into one of the most prolific goal-scorers we’ve ever had. She’s going to be up there with the likes of Christy Capkovic, Megan Niederschulte and Niki Martinez. She can be that type of player.”
Dye scored the most goals as a freshman since Lauren Pratt scored ten in 2012. Scire said he was impressed with Dye’s drive and determination on the field. He said he has observed these qualities in her ever since he first saw her play for her high school, Windsor in Imperial Missouri, when she was a sophomore. Dye’s team trailed, but Scire was struck by Dye’s resolve.
“She pretty much imposed her will,” Scire said. “And did what any true forward would do—find a way to win that game.”
Dye scored the tying goal in the final minutes.
“I was like, I just know I want to win,” Dye said. “And I don’t know what it’s going to take, but I have this much time left, and it’s gonna happen.”
Despite the success she enjoyed this season, Dye did not believe she would see the field as much as she did, at least initially. When her friends asked her if she had been starting on the team, she joked she’d start—on the bench.
“No, usually freshman year is about getting used to it, and I figured it was going to be a transition, but no,” Dye said.
Scire said Dye’s first start was due, in part, to injuries which forced her into the lineup. But once she was there, she proved herself to be one of the best on the Gorloks’ SLIAC championship team. Statistically, she had her best game in Webster’s 11-0 drubbing of Eureka College, as she notched her first college hat trick.
Her success early in her college career may have surprised her, but not necessarily her teammates. Junior Allison Ferguson said it became clear that Dye would be a major player on the team, and it didn’t take long for the two to develop a rapport on and off the field.
“On the field, her and I—I don’t know what it was. We just could always find each other,” Ferguson said. “We had a little telepathy communication out there. I mean, I loved it. When the two of us were on the field together, we just worked so well together.”
Ferguson assisted Dye on her first goal against Calvin. Dye said she and Ferguson share an understanding of the game, and she looks forward to playing with her for the next few years. Dye is especially excited for next season, because she wants to live up to her first year and take the next step in the NCAA tournament. In 2014, Webster lost in the first round to the University of Chicago 1-0, a game Dye still thinks about.
“I want to pass the first round of the NCAA tournament,” Dye said. “I want to get to that second round because I know we can do it.”