By Kaelin Triggs, Staff Writer
On Friday, Nov. 15, Wheaton College beat Webster’s Women’s soccer team in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Despite the defeat, the Gorloks ended their season with a winning record.
Webster finished with 15 overall wins and only five losses. The team also finished their regular season with the best record in the conference. The Gorloks were 7-1 in conference play.
Despite their accomplishments, the team struggled with the loss of players due to injuries early in the season. According to head coach Luigi Scire, key players were hurt, but this offered a chance for freshmen to step up.
“With adversity, you always find out how resilient you team is,” Scire said. “I think it is because of our freshmen stepping in and doing such a fantastic job, we were able to be successful and stay consistent throughout the season.”
One freshmen who aided in the team’s success was goalkeeper Taryn Banfield. Banfield, the MVP of the conference tournament, recorded 79 saves and allowed 13 goals. In the loss against Wheaton, Banfield recorded 13 saves. Sophomore Forward, Jordan Lande, said that the defense did a good job of stepping up when the offense was struggling.
“In games where we had a hard time putting the ball into the net, we just kept battling,” Lande said. “Our defense and goalie certainly kept us in the game until our offense could break through.”
Along with Banfield, Webster’s defense allowed 16 goals throughout the season. Opponents failed to score against Webster in 13 games, the second-most shutout wins in school history according to team records.
Freshman defender Reaghan Young said team chemistry helped them accomplish their goals this season.
“We did a bunch of team bonding which helped us to get to know each other,” Young said. “Throughout the season, we would always hang out with each other and be together. That chemistry we had off of the field really helped us in games.”
This year saw Webster make its 14th NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. Prior to this, the Gorloks had to win the conference tournament, doing so by defeating both Westminster College and Greenville University 1-0.
Several Gorloks received All-Conference honors in the conference tournament. Senior forward Melissa Kasper earned SLIAC Offensive Player of the Year and senior defender Lily Brauer earned SLIAC Defensive Player of the Year. Kasper, Brauer and sophomore midfielder Jordan Bilyeu were First Team All-Conference.
Six seniors graduate at the conclusion of this year. Kasper, Brauer, midfielders Olivia Osterhage and Payton Williams, forward Savannah Page and goalkeeper Abbey Mercer will also be graduating.
Lande, who earned Third Team All-Conference, said she has some big expectations coming back next season as a junior. She hopes for another conference championship and deeper run in the NCAA Tournament.
“There are some big shoes to fill with the graduation of the senior captains,” Lande said. “But we have leaders on the team and despite being a young team, we are committed to continue the Webster winning tradition.”