When the final penalty kick deflected off the crossbar, the Webster women’s soccer season ended in a dramatic fashion. The Gorloks fell short when going for their fourth straight Saint Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) championship against the Westminster Blue Jays.
The game was tied 0-0 after 90 minutes of regulation, and still tied after an additional 20 minutes of overtime. The game was decided with penalty kicks. Both teams connected on their first four shots in the penalty kick round. Westminster put their fifth shot into the goal, while Webster’s Allison Ferguson’s shot deflected off and out, ending the season.
It may not have been the ending that head coach Luigi Scire was looking for, but he said he still feels the season was a success.
“I think it was a very successful season, and I say that because not many outside of the soccer program know some of the adversity that this team went through from day one of preseason all the way to the very end,” Scire said. “Numbers and titles tell a particular story, but it’s the overall commitment of these great student athletes that fought all season long and never gave up.”
The loss ended the season, and was the final in the career of five Webster seniors. One of which was Ashley Mess.
“I think we outplayed them. It was kind of more disappointing in that aspect knowing that we could have done it,” Mess said. “A lot of it was luck just was not on our side that night. Somebody, somewhere did not want us to win that game.”
Scire felt the team did all they could to win every game this season.
“We go out there and work and fight for 90 minutes, and let’s see what happens, and to me, that equals success,” Scire said. “It’s not the number of wins and titles or whatnot it’s how you came together as a team and how you achieved those team goals. I think overall it was a very successful season.”
Leading the way for the Gorloks’ defense this season was Mess. In her fourth year at Webster, she was named to the all-conference team for the fourth time. Scire said Mess epitomizes who they are as a team.
“As soon as she stepped onto the field for me as a player, you know you had someone special. I had all the confidence in the world from day one that Ashley Mess was going to be that great player,” Scire said. “She went out there are gave it everything she had, and I think her teammates, and me especially, we have tremendous respect for someone like that.”
Mess was also named the SLIAC co-defensive player of the year. Mess said she does feel honored by the award, but she always feels like she could have done more.
“Everybody always tells me, ‘you deserve it.’ And I’m like, ‘I guess.’ I always feel like there’s something more that could be done,” Mess said.
When asked about not having Mess next season, Scire said, “We got some big shoes to fill next year in the backfield.”
A position that Scire will not have to fill next season is the forward spot. Chelsea Noser excelled in that position in her first season playing for the Gorloks, Scire said.
Noser overcomes injuries
Noser is a sophomore academically, but because she missed all of last season with a torn ACL, she was just a freshman athletically. She redshirted last season, so she did not lose any eligibility while sitting out with injury.
“It was heartbreaking having to sit out last season. I was always the player who was never hurt, and now it’s like I can’t stop,” Noser said.
When playing against North Central Sept. 20, Noser tore cartilage in the same knee that she had surgically repaired last season. She decided to postpone surgery until after the season in order to be able to compete with her teammates.
“It was my decision if I wanted to finish out the season or not. I couldn’t stand the thought of spending another season cheering from the sidelines,” Noser said.
Scire said any other player on any other team would have probably hung up their cleats for the season and had the surgery, but Noser is not like that.
“You can’t teach passion, fire, and the desire to succeed. You either have it or you don’t. And Chelsea Noser has it,” Scire said.
Noser led the Gorloks with 12 goals this season. She also contributed to the offense with five assists. Ashley Mess and her sister Jessica Mess had the same number of assists.
“I definitely didn’t expect to come back and play as well as I did, but I knew I wanted to make a mark this season,” Noser said. “Maybe I just had a lot of built-up scoring to do, but I still think I got lucky on a few of those.”
For Ashley Mess, it was something special to play alongside her sister for the past four years at Webster.
“I wish we could have put more of her crosses in because she puts it in the perfect spot every time. Makes we want to play forward with her,” Ashley Mess said.
The Mess sisters are two of the five seniors on the team.
“I hope they walked away enjoying their experience and knowing the time, the effort, the hard work was all well worth it… I loved having them be a part of this program,” Scire said.
Both Scire and Noser are quickly shifting their focus to the 2016 season, and they expect the success to continue. Eight of the top 10 goal scorers from the 2015 season will return.
“It obviously still stings that we lost the championship game… but it has us all on our toes to play Westminister next season,” Noser said. “It’s been less than a week since our season ended and I am already looking forward to next season.”
Scire said now it is recruiting season. He looks to add quality depth to compliment the core group of players returning.
“I truly believe when we step on the field in August we will be an even better team than we were this year, and to me that’s very exciting,” Scire said. “I know it excites the core players that are returning, knowing that we have a chance to get back to the conference championship, and this time we finish the job.”