Going into the postseason St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) tournament, Webster University’s women’s soccer team capitalized on their best season since 2001. The team finished with a record of 17-1 in which they went 9-0 in conference play.
Head coach Luigi Scire said senior leadership was the backbone of the team’s success. He said the hard work they put in earlier this year has led them to this nearly perfect regular season.
“We have six outstanding seniors who have set the tone not only during the season, but in the offseason,” Scire said. “This all started way back in January, they’re a group that for the past four years has been a part of our success. The way they work, the way they present themselves at practice, the way they go about executing the game plan during the game and getting the underclassmen involved has been key to our success.”
The SLIAC semifinals started on Nov. 2 in which Webster defeated Westminster 2-1. Webster advanced to the championship game, where they would go on to defeat Fontbonne 1-0.
Webster will travel to Dubuque, Iowa for the NCAA Division III tournament, where they will face Loras College.
Scire said he is confident the team can carry their momentum from the regular season and the SLIAC tournament into the NCAA tournament.
“We need to continue what we’ve been doing thus far,” Scire said. “We’ve been very good offensively, very dedicated on the defensive aspect and our success is based on commitment throughout the field. We’re not offensively oriented, and we’re not defensively oriented, we have to have a balance of the two to have success.”
Five of the six seniors on the team have started in all 20 games. Senior forward Chelsea Noser is one of the players that Scire has counted on for leadership this season.
Noser said playing with some of the same teammates over the past few years helped them build comradery and learn each other’s strengths and tendencies.
“It all comes down to team chemistry, there are so many girls that have been playing together so long that we know where each other wants the ball,” Noser said. “It’s just a matter of playing together over the last four years that has finally made things really click.”
Over the past few seasons the team has managed to secure winning records and have success in the SLIAC tournament, but they have lost in the NCAA tournament, losing in the first round for consecutive years in a row.
Noser said after coming up short in the NCAA tournament in most of her time at Webster, she hopes the team can finally get over the hump and go deeper into the postseason.
“Since we made it to the tournament the last two out of three years, we were unsuccessful in the first round, but we’ve had such a great record this season,” Noser said. “We were ranked sixth in the central region and I feel like we will be able to get a good seed going into the first round and hopefully get into that second round.”
Sophomore forward Melissa Kasper has started in all 20 games and leads the team in goals and assists. Kasper said the talented players around her have helped her get more assists and they have also given her the confidence to be aggressive and score goals.
“The biggest part that helped me with the assists is the fact that the wealth has been spread evenly this year,” Kasper said. “A few of us have nearly about the same amount of goals, so it’s good that everyone is contributing to the team and it’s helping us win.”
With all of the team’s regular season success, Kasper looks forward to making a postseason run that will hopefully result in a championship.
“I’m most excited to have won the conference tournament again in my second year at Webster,” Kasper said. “I think that with our great record this year, we’ll have a really good seed in the NCAA tournament, and I’m excited to hopefully get farther this year by starting off with a good seed.”