After losing 13 seniors from the 2014 season, including their leader in points, goals and assists, the Webster Men’s Soccer team looked to a younger roster to fill the role. Leading the charge was freshman forward Zach Gyuricza.
Gyuricza graduated from St. Viator high school in the Chicago area and started every game for the Gorloks in his first season.
“The biggest change was having a new team,” Gyuricza said. “For high school, you’re with [your teammates] for four years. So at least for this year, I guess, it was that new team and actually bonding and getting to know them, and getting to know how they play as well was the biggest difference.”
The competition level was also new; Gyuricza said soccer is more competitive and more physical at the college level.
Gyuricza lead the team in goals and points and was tied for first in assists in his first season as a Gorlok. He was tied for sixth in total points in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) and seventh in total goals.
Gyuricza surprised himself with his early success and said he didn’t expect to score as many goals as he did in his first season.
“It’s a surprise. I’m not going into the season thinking I’m going to score that much or do that well,” Gyuricza said. “I was kind of just doing me – doing the best I could, and whatever happened, happened.”
Gyuricza is also a runner for the track team at Webster. He runs mostly hurdle events, including the 110 meter hurdles and 400 meter hurdles, along with the 4×4 relay and occasionally the 200 meter. His background in track is what he attributes one of his strengths on the soccer field to.
“I’ve had it my whole life,” Gyuricza said. “That’s the one thing I can say for certain – I’m usually, if not the fastest, one of the fastest on the field, 99 percent of the time.”
Freshman teammate Coale Dolbert noticed the same ability that Gyuricza talked about.
“He is very fast, as most people know. He is an explosive player. His speed and technical ability is a force to deal with,” Dolbert said. “He is very fast on the pitch and can basically outrun most everyone we play.”
Dolbert said he and Gyuricza use track as another way to stay in shape in the offseason by helping them build strength and stamina. They also kick around the soccer ball from time to time.
During the track season, Gyuricza said he hit a physical and mental wall that made him tired all the time, especially after meets. After taking a week to relax, Gyuricza came back and set the school record in the 400 meter hurdles.
During the soccer season, Gyuricza said he did not hit the same wall as he did in track, but the team did. He referenced the five-game stretch where the Gorloks went 0-3-2 to end their nonconference schedule and start their conference schedule.
“We were down and we got on each other,” Gyuricza said. “Towards the end of the season, we brought it back and broke through that wall.”
The Gorloks went 9-10-2 this season with a conference record of 6-2-1. This was a down season compared to their previous 2014 season where they went 10-9-2 and undefeated in conference play with a record of 8-0-1.
The conference tournament game against Greenville College stood out most to Gyuricza – not because of a goal he scored, but because of an assist to his roommate Filip Delija.
“I made a run on the right side and did like a toe-poke chip, far post, over their whole defense and hoping [Delija] would be there,” Gyuricza said. “He came running in and put the head-goal in. That’s probably the one highlight I’ll always remember.”
Delija and Gyuricza knew each other for four years before coming to Webster. They played on the same club team in Illinois. Gyuricza said it was not the deciding factor for choosing Webster, but it definitely helped in the decision making process.
Both players are freshmen and will continue playing together for the next three seasons.
Moving forward, Gyuricza said he wants to increase his strength and improve his ability to beat defenders more consistently. As a team, Gyuricza said they need to continue to work on how they play together so they can reach their ultimate goal.
“Our main goal right now is definitely to beat Westminster and take the conference title,” Gyuricza said. “Play to our potential and play to how good we can be, because I know we can be a really, really good team.”