Soccer team chases championship after record-breaking season

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The men’s soccer team has won their last 24 conference match-ups. Players like Matt Coffey, however, said he is still taking things one game at a time.

In  2021 alone, the Webster men’s soccer team won two regular season titles. They are undefeated in their last 24 conference match-ups dating back to last spring.

The Gorloks have accomplished 29 wins in the span of two seasons, with only two losses. The team also beat the all-time single season wins record, winning 17 games this fall.  Thirteen of those 17 wins have been shut-outs, meaning their opponent didn’t score.

The team holds the longest unbeaten streak in conference history with 26 consecutive wins. 2021 also presented head coach, Mike Siener, with his 100th career win.

Now, the Gorloks head into the postseason with the goal of becoming repeat St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) champions. Matt Coffey, senior goalkeeper, believes continuing to take the postseason one game at a time will be their key to success.

“Momentum is definitely on our side going into the conference tournament after going undefeated in conference play through the regular season,” Coffey said. “However, we aren’t taking anyone lightly. We know how much of a grind every game is, and we all know it’s extremely difficult to beat a team three times in one year. One slip up could end our season, so we are all focused on achieving the ultimate goal, which is to win the conference tournament.”

The men’s soccer team huddles together during a break in play against Washington University. Photo by Kaelin Triggs.

In 2018, Coffey’s freshman season for the Gorloks, the team lost in the first round of the SLIAC tournament to Greenville University in penalty kicks. In 2019, the Gorloks failed to make the tournament. 2019 was Webster’s first time missing the SLIAC tournament in over a decade.

Due to COVID-19, the 2020 season was pushed back to spring 2021. The season was also shortened and limited to conference play only. It was during this COVID-19 season that the team won its first regular season title since 2014 and its first SLIAC championship since 2012.

According to Coffey, the team’s mindset shifted between his freshman year and now. Failing to make it to the tournament his sophomore year motivated the team to come back better.

“The mindset completely switched the next season,” Coffey said. “Everyone was done with losing, and we all went into every game with the mindset that we weren’t going to lose.”

Mark Moore, sophomore forward, said he and a few other younger members of the team probably don’t appreciate their championship title quite as much as the upperclassmen. According to Moore, in previous years, the Webster team had just been unlucky.

Moore said the team had a strong roster, but couldn’t put together all the pieces. Now, however, they have found a way to succeed.

“We’ve started to realize how special this group is, and we can’t take this opportunity for granted,” Moore said. “These last couple of seasons, we’ve found a way to succeed. I just hope that success follows us into the postseason.”

Moore has recorded 10 goals this season, which is second behind senior midfielder Aamahn Murvin. Murvin currently has 14 goals in the season. According to Moore, the biggest reason for their success is the depth they have on the team. He said they have really strong players, from those who play the full 90 minutes to those who don’t get much playing time. The level of play doesn’t drop off when there are substitutions.

According to him, this is a big key to their success. He said it is easier to play as hard as you can when the guys off the bench can produce the same level of competitiveness. The challenge is to not focus too far ahead going into the conference tournament.

“We just try to take it one game at a time,” Moore said. “Soccer games are hard to win, believe me. So all we can do is win the next game.”

Siener, who just accomplished 100 career wins, attributes the success to the mix of veterans with good leadership skills and talented younger athletes on the team this season.He said the 100 wins reflect how good his players and the rest of his staff are. According to him, at the end of the day it is all about the players.

“They win the games and compete,” Siener said. “It’s been great just to be able to coach and be around such fine young men for my coaching career here at Webster.”

Siener said the most special part of this season has been watching his players do great things on and off the field. He said coaching the athletes, seeing how great they are as students and representing the university in a positive way has been really special for him.

Accomplishing all of this in his senior season has meant a lot to Coffey, who said it shows the hard work his team puts in.

Coffey describes practices as a battle where everyone is battling to make each other better. He said many of the seniors know what it takes to succeed, and all the upperclassmen hold themselves to a higher standard to ensure their younger teammates succeed as well.

“This program has meant a lot to me these last four years, and everyone on this team has worked so hard,” Coffey said. “To see our hard work turn into success is really special. I’m not ready for it to end, but I have made some friends for life here and look forward to making one last postseason run.”

Siener said this group has done a really good job of focusing on one game at a time. He thinks there will be no change heading into the conference tournament.

According to Siener, he really wants to see the team win in the postseason, but nothing will take away from what this group has already accomplished.

“This is a truly special group that has accomplished so much in the last two seasons,” Siener said. “It will be hard to top that for sure.”

The Gorloks will play in the semifinals of the SLIAC Tournament on Thursday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m.

 

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Sports Editor | + posts

Kaelin Triggs (he/him) is the sports editor for the Journal. He is a journalism major pursuing a career in sports writing. He also runs for Webster's track and cross country team, and he enjoys playing piano and hanging out with friends and family.