After his second goal of the game, sophomore Daniel Payne smiled a huge pumpkin grin and dove across the soggy field, sending sheets of water everywhere. There were pieces of Vanderbilt between his teeth.
Payne and his teammates didn’t just come out hungry for the program’s 200th win on Friday. They were starving.
The team shredded Vanderbilt 4-0.
“It was good to give coach a 200th win,” Payne said. “We knew and had tried to get it against Bradley, and since we didn’t, we were mad. We came out with fire, and though we started out a little shaky in the first five or 10 minutes, we settled down, came out, and finished a good goal.”
With two goals, Payne wasn’t the only one on fire. Senior goalkeeper Daryl Sattler posted seven saves for his second shutout in three matches.
Throughout the game, Sattler was like a vacuum to the ball. Once during the second half, he jumped and seemingly suspended two feet above the other players to catch the ball.
But Sattler insists he still isn’t up to his pre-injury best.
“My first step’s not there yet, but it’s coming,” Sattler said. “It’s just a matter of training and training and training. That’s what it took to get me there. Now I’ve just got to get it back.”
Coach David Holmes said Sattler’s contributions often go without notice, but he’s a big contributor to the team.
“Vanderbilt had a very good scoring opportunity very early, but Daryl came up big,” Holmes said. “That’s been Daryl’s history. It’s snuffing out what would be a sure goal, and then we go on to win the game, and people forget about the great save.”
Freshman goalkeeper Wade Roepke, who has not seen much play time since Sattler’s return, made his first appearance back on the field in his former position as defender.
Roepke said he’s not quite back to his old self yet either, but he will be with practice.
Other young team members made big contributions. Sophomores Steven Medlock and Marc Walters scored goals against the Commodores (3-5-4, 2-1 Missouri Valley). Freshmen Joey German and Alex Sheik each contributed an assist.
Holmes said every time the offense had the ball, it looked dangerous. After Western (5-6-1, 2-1) outshot Vanderbilt 15-11, Holmes said he was surprised by the team’s explosiveness and by the final score of the game.
“I’m especially pleased with the guys who came off the bench,” Holmes said. “Every single one of them picked the team up when they came in. We’ve got guys fighting for positions with lots of competition for playing time, and they’re doing it the right way, they’re doing it on the playing field. When we go to the bench, we don’t lose too much with this team.”
Payne said Friday was not only his personal best game, but the team’s best as well. He said when the team plays with confidence, it makes it easier for the midfielders and forwards to attack.
“The team is clicking, they’re playing soccer,” Sattler said. “We’re knocking it down, putting it down to the ground, playing the beat. In the past, and at the beginning of the season, we got in some trouble keeping the ball in our possession. We had a couple of turnovers here and there, but now we’re playing really well.”
Reach Joanie Baker at [email protected]