Webster University women’s soccer team looked to keep their undefeated conference streak alive going into the “Big Bend rivalry” game against Fontbonne University.
The Gorloks had a record of 21 consecutive SLIAC conference wins before the game against traditional rival Fontbonne.
After no score during the first 33 minutes, sophomore Brianna Pagan scored her fourth goal of the season in the thirty-fourth minute on an assist from fellow sophomore, Kayla Dye.
Freshman forward Jen Laaksonen scored her third goal of the year in the seventy-seventh minute of the game to put it out of reach.
The Gorloks defeated Fontbonne 2-0, bringing their conference record to 3-0 and pushing their conference undefeated streak to 22 games.
Webster women’s head coach Luigi Scire said a big rivalry win can increase a team’s confidence throughout the rest of the season.
“It’s a big boost in confidence,” Scire said. “Knowing that you can play in a big game, work really hard, execute the game plan and come out successful, as a player you feel more confident.”
Senior forward Jessica Mess is familiar with the rivalry between Webster and Fontbonne. During her freshman year, Fontbonne was the only conference game the team lost. At the end of the season, there was a three-way tie for first, and home-field advantage was not awarded to Webster.
“We’ve never wanted that to happen again,” Mess said. “We’ve always wanted to be first, no contest … We want to make sure we are playing at the soccer park and not somewhere else.”
Robin Bolme, sophomore goalkeeper, recorded her second win of the year. The game was also her second shutout of the season.
Team injury problems
Injuries to key players, including captain Lauren Nuelle’s ACL tear, have not slowed down the Gorloks. Scire and his coaching staff said they are impressed by what they have seen so far this season.
“The coaching staff has been very happy with how things have gone,” Scire said. “We’ve dealt with injuries… Overall, setting those injuries aside, I’ve been very pleased with how others have stepped up and done a great job.”
Noser returns from injury
One of the players that has stepped up this season is sophomore forward Chelsea Noser. Noser did not play last season due to an injury in the preseason. Currently, Noser leads the team in goals (9) and total points (22).
“The one thing, after being off for a year, that I didn’t expect is the composure,” Scire said. “It just seems like everything she puts on goal has been dangerous… Her composure and her finishing ability has been a big plus.”
Scire said he believes that the depth of the team has helped Webster succeed this year.
“I think for any team to be successful you have to have quality depth,” Scire said. “I think that depth here in October has shown in terms of our play in the conference. Each of [the players] have helped take it to the next level.”
Team depth is the key
Scire says the depth can be shown by the scoring on the team. Seven players have three goals or more on the season and five players have nine total points or more.
“We’re not waiting for one or two individuals to carry the team,” Scire said.
Two of the top scoring players this season are freshmen. Jen Laaksonen, who scored the second goal against Fontbonne, is tied for second on the team in total points (10). Fellow freshman Gaby Medrano is tied for fourth on the team with nine total points.
The combination of the upcoming freshmen, Laaksonen and Medrano, paired with the improving Dye, Mess and captain Lauren Pratt has impressed coach Scire, who said he believes that they are keys in being successful the rest of the season.
The goalkeeper duo
The Gorloks began the year relatively inexperienced at the keeper position. Bolme and freshman Alisa Coralic have split time throughout the season.
Coralic has a 6-0 record and leads the SLIAC conference in goals allowed (7) and is second in goals-against average (1.08). First place in goals-against average is Ellen Woolsey of Westminster (1.07).
Bolme has a 2-4 record but leads the team in shutouts (2) which is tied for second in the SLIAC. She is also second in the conference in goals allowed (9) to her teammate Coralic.
Scire said he is impressed with what he has seen from both of them.
“I’m very happy with the tandem,” Scire said. “They push each other. The way they work at practice and the way they support each other … They both deserve to be out there playing.”
The split time has not affected either of them. In fact, it has sparked a friendship.
“We are both pretty weird people and don’t let the competition of a position get in the way of our friendship,” Bolme said. “We support each other as if we have known each other since we were five years old. When it’s her game, I warm her up as I would want to be warmed up, and when it is mine, she does the same.”
With the defense playing great and the offense beginning to click, Scire said the key to a deep run in the conference tournament and NCAA tournament is to stay as healthy as possible the rest of the season.
Webster is currently 8-4 and is still undefeated in conference play, pushing their streak to 23 games after an 8-0 win against Blackburn College.
The Gorloks’ next game is against Westminster College, who is also undefeated in SLIAC conference play.