October 27, 2020

Webster Classics: Men’s soccer team beats Greenville to win conference tournament

Many of the seniors on the 2009 men’s soccer team were friends before arriving at Webster. The team was able to end their college career together by winning the 2009 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament. 

The 2009 Webster men’s soccer senior class was a tight-knit group. The majority had known each other for years prior to college. They made the decision to stay close to home and play soccer together at Webster.

“There were opportunities for us to go play at bigger schools,” former Webster goalie Matt Geringer said. “We loved the game and wanted to play with each other.”

The Webster University men’s soccer team won the 2009 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) tournament, shutting out Greenville 1-0. This was the program’s third of four tournament championships, and the first since 2005.

The players were confident heading into the 2009 season despite a disappointing 2008. The team finished with a 5-8-3 record in 2008 and were shut out in the first round of the conference tournament.

Andy Rudroff was Webster’s lead scorer in 2009, his senior year.

“We thought we had a chance to win every game we played that season,” Rudroff said. “Which is funny to say because then we didn’t win a game in our first five.”

The team started 0-4-1. All five games were non-conference and they did not allow more than two goals in any of them.

“The weirdest part was that there wasn’t anything going through our minds,” Rudroff said. “No panic, no worry, just this feeling that it was coming and we were going to start really winning some games.”

They would go 10-3 for the rest of the season, including 7-1 in conference play. This was thanks to the Webster defense. The team allowed just .846 goals against per game after their first five games. That would have been fifth in school history.

“We were just dominating possession,” Geringer said. “I was never facing too many shots because we were holding the ball for the vast majority of the games.”

Current Webster associate head coach Josh Sellmeyer was a freshman on the 2009 team. This was his first exposure to how Webster played defense. He would go on to win another conference tournament championship as a captain defenseman his senior season. He would also be a coach during Webster’s best defensive season in terms of goals against average in 2018.

“Our identity is defense,” Sellmeyer said. “You had to prioritize defense. If you didn’t, you’d get called out or you just wouldn’t play. There was always another guy behind you ready to take your spot.”

The team was set to play Greenville in the conference tournament championship. Greenville was undefeated in conference play in 2009, also giving Webster their only loss. They beat Webster 2-1 just a few weeks prior to the end of the regular season.

The championship game would be played at Greenville after they went undefeated in the conference season. Rudroff said that the Greenville crowd was always packed due to the town’s size.

“Man, we just wanted another shot at them after they beat us at home,” Rudroff said. “I was excited to get the chance to wipe that arrogant smile off their face.”

According to Rudroff and Geringer, the Greenville team was cocky and made a big deal of beating Webster during the regular season. It frustrated the team to see Greenville celebrating on Webster’s home field.

“They were celebrating like they had already won the tournament,” Geringer said. “They beat us, which is fine, but we thought the way they behaved afterward didn’t sit right with us. We used it as a little bit of motivation.”

“Plus, they had all dyed their hair orange,” Rudroff said. “That made me want to beat them even worse.”

Rudroff would score the first, and what would be only, goal at the 16-minute mark of the championship game. He passed a player by veering to his left. Then, from about 12 yards, he kicked the ball up with his left foot.

“Someone actually walked in front of me so I didn’t see it go in,” Rudroff said. “I didn’t think I had gotten enough on it, but there it was at the back of the goal.”

Webster would hold Greenville scoreless for the entire game.

“It was a lot of pressure, but as a goalkeeper, you have to push that aside,” Geringer said. “I wasn’t faced with anything in that game that I hadn’t faced before. The only mistake I could make was losing my focus.”

Geringer was named the tournament MVP, and Webster would head to the national tournament. Geringer is the only men’s goalie in Webster history to receive the award.

“It was weird for me because usually, they give [MVP] to a scorer,” Geringer said. “I guess I must’ve impressed them.”

The team celebrated in the middle of Greenville’s home field. The seniors, who had stayed in St. Louis to play with each other, ended their collegiate career with a championship.

“We all just started jumping and you looked around and saw some of your best friends that you’d be playing with this whole time,” Rudroff said. “Those guys made it extra special.”

The team went on to lose in the national tournament to Loras College 3-1. The Webster men’s soccer program has still never won a tournament game.

Some of the seniors played together in adult leagues after college, but all of them are still in contact.

“I wish I could go back,” Rudroff said. “I don’t think about that season too often but when I do, it’s all good memories.”

 

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