SEWARD, Neb. – Bulldog athletics completed the fall campaign with a fourth-place positioning in the GPAC All-Sports Trophy Standings. The conference also updates the standings at the close of the winter and spring sport seasons. Concordia collected 43 fall points towards the all-sports standings. The Bulldogs are only 1.5 points behind second-place Dordt.
Concordia reeled in at least eight points each from the sports of women’s soccer (regular-season champ), men’s soccer (tied for second place) and football (third place). The Bulldogs athletic department won the GPAC All-Sports Trophy in 2014-15 and then finished second in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Read on for a complete breakdown of the fall in Concordia athletics.
Concordia women’s soccer wins first-ever conference regular-season title
The Concordia women’s soccer program had captured GPAC postseason titles in 2014 and 2016, but never before had it won a conference regular-season championship. That changed on Oct. 25 when the Bulldogs took down then 20th-ranked Hastings, 1-0, locking up the outright title. The victory over the Broncos capped a remarkable run for head coach Greg Henson’s squad, which went 9-0-1 and allowed only one goal during conference regular-season play. The late-season run also included a 1-0 victory at No. 18 Midland and postseason wins over Morningside and Northwestern. Named GPAC coach of the year, Henson guided his team to a 15-2-4 overall record and a fourth-straight appearance in the conference tournament championship game.
Men’s soccer shatters program wins record
A Micah Lehenbauer golden goal in double overtime lifted the Concordia men’s soccer program to a 2-1 victory at Midland on Oct. 18. At the time, the Bulldogs celebrated their 13th win of the year, breaking the program record for most victories in a season. The previous record of 12 had been held by the 2000 team that featured current head coach Jason Weides as a junior defender. This year’s squad went on to shatter the record while finishing at 16-3-1. Concordia began the year at 10-0-1 before finally suffering its first loss on Oct. 7. The 11-game streak was the longest undefeated run in the history of Bulldog men’s soccer. A team driven by an accomplished senior class advanced to the GPAC championship contest for the third year in a row.
Durdon breaks out
Many fans were likely checking their programs to find out who wore No. 19 when the season kicked off on Sept. 2. By the time that game had ended, Concordia fans were well aware of the native of Decatur, Texas. Sophomore Ryan Durdon rushed for 208 yards and a touchdown in the opening game at Kansas Wesleyan University. He then proceeded to rack up 1,247 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the year while piling up the second largest single-season rushing total in school history. Durdon equaled a program record with 266 rushing yards in the 44-14 win over Midland on Oct. 14. Durdon’s incredible season resulted in him earning second team all-conference accolades.
Carley seizes GPAC player of the year award
Bulldog women’s soccer opened the 2017 season with a big question mark at goalkeeper after the graduation of the standard setting Chrissy Lind. Sophomore Lindsey Carley eventually won the battle for the position and turned heads with shutout after shutout. With Carley in goal, Concordia broke a program record for fewest goals allowed in a season, surrendering just one goal during the entire 10-game GPAC regular-season slate. Carley finished the year ranked ninth nationally in goals against average (0.49) and was named the NAIA National Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 24. More good news came on Nov. 13 when the GPAC tabbed the Urbandale, Iowa, native as the GPAC Defensive Player of the Year. She was the first Bulldog to receive such an award since Jennifer Davis in 2003.
Deschaine earns third-straight national championships berth
Senior Emily Deschaine finished her cross country career strong, recording the highest conference finish of her career. She placed sixth by clocking in at 18:32.60 while competing at the GPAC championships hosted by Dordt College on Nov. 4. That effort pushed the native of Frankenmuth, Mich., to the national championships for the third year in a row. On the national stage in Vancouver, Wash., Deschaines placed 131st with a time of 19:18. Her tremendous career included three all-conference cross country awards. She was also named a NAIA Scholar-Athlete last week.
Men’s golf equals school record in opening round of GPAC championships
The men’s golf program put together a solid fall season that saw it situate itself in fourth place in the GPAC standings at the halfway point. From a team perspective, Concordia did its best work on Oct. 2 when it equaled a team single-round record with a four-over-par 288 in the first round of the GPAC championships held at Willow Run Golf Course in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Oct. 2. The four individual totals that counted towards that team score were turned in by Tyler Ehresman (70), Nolan Zikas (70), Tylar Samek (71) and Russell Otten (77). Zikas is currently sitting in fifth place in the GPAC standings entering the spring season.
Garcia adds another program record
Senior Jared Garcia ended his collegiate football career as the most accomplished receiver in school history. The native of Pearland, Texas, broke the school record previously held by former All-American tight end Ross Wurdeman on Nov. 4 when he caught a 33-yard touchdown pass in a win at Briar Cliff. When all was said and done, Garcia concluded his time as a Bulldog with program career records for receiving yards (2,495) and receiving touchdowns (35). He also owns the school standard for touchdown catches in a season (11). His 161 career grabs rank second behind only Wurdeman (168) on the school’s all-time list. Garcia collected two first team and two second team All-GPAC honors over his four seasons.
Men’s and Women’s Cross Country
2017 men’s GPAC finish: 6th
2017 women’s GPAC finish: 5th
--Thomas Taylor: finished 18th (26:19.04) at the GPAC championships and paced the Bulldog men’s team at all five meets in 2017.
--Emily Deschaine: placed sixth (18:32.60) at the GPAC championships; finished 131st (19:18) at the NAIA national championships, qualifying for nationals for the third year in a row.
Season highlights: The reliable legs of Emily Deschaine provided many of the season’s biggest highlights for the second year in a row for Concordia cross country. Deschaine paced the Bulldogs at every meet, turning in place finishes of 10th (Dordt Classic), sixth (Dean White Invite), 14th (Briar Cliff Invite), fifth (Mount Marty Invite) and sixth (GPAC championships) on her way to a third national championships appearance in a row. Deschaine set an example for cross country programs that featured 11 freshmen runners (six men, five women) at the conference meet. On the men’s side, Thomas Taylor came up just short of all-conference honors while placing 18th in the GPAC. Both teams will return the bulk of their key runners next season.
GPAC all-conference: Emily Deschaine (6th)
Coach Beisel: The women ran out of their heads (at the GPAC championships) and it was so exciting to see. Looking to the future with us only losing Emily to graduation, we’re returning a really solid team and we have some good recruits we’re talking to as well. I’m never going to be satisfied until we’re winning conference. That’s the bottom line. It doesn’t happen overnight. You look at the effort of each individual, and also the team effort (at the GPAC championships) – these kids ran their hearts out. Our women placed fifth and our men placed sixth again. I’m so proud of everyone one of our kids. They know they did a great job. We’re still going to have to see improvement in our returning kids. I am convinced that we’re going to be up there in the near future with Concordia cross country. I also know that our GPAC rivals are very, very good.
2017 record: 6-4 overall; 5-3 GPAC (3rd)
--Ryan Durdon: rushed 227 times for 1,247 yards and eight touchdowns; ran for 266 yards and four touchdowns in the 44-14 win over Midland.
--D’Mauria Martin: 52 tackles, 8 pbu’s, 6 tfl’s, 5 int’s, ff; named NAIA national defensive player of the week on Oct. 16 after picking off three passes in the win over Midland.
--Lane Napier: 97 tackles (led GPAC), 8 tfl’s, 2 pbu’s, sack; earned GPAC defensive player of the week honors after recording 17 tackles and a sack in the win over Dakota Wesleyan.
--Tarence Roby: 31 tackles, 7 pbu’s, 4 int’s, 1,041 all-purpose yards; picked up two GPAC defensive player of the week awards.
--Matt Romero: started all 10 games for an offensive line that helped pave the way for an average of 199.4 rushing yards per game.
Season highlights: Once the 2017 Concordia football team firmly established its identity, it went on a roll. The Bulldogs put together a four-game winning streak while riding the legs of running back Ryan Durdon, who rose to stardom during the second half of the season. Durdon tied a school record by rushing for 266 yards (and four touchdowns) in the triumph over Midland. The hot stretch allowed head coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad to enter the national rankings late in the season and to secure a third-place conference finish. Though the defensive side of the ball suffered significant losses from graduation in May 2017, coordinator Corby Osten’s unit morphed into one of the NAIA’s best behind standout defensive backs D’Mauria Martin and Tarence Roby. Martin picked off three passes in the victory over Midland and was subsequently named the NAIA National Defensive Player of the Week. Roby appeared on SportsCenter after returning an interception 100 yards for a touchdown in the win over Ottawa University (Kan.). The group of four-year seniors finished their careers with a record of 24-17 since the start of the 2014 season. The 10th head coach in program history, Daberkow’s six wins represented the second best figure for a first-year head coach since Concordia football inaugurated in 1925.
D’Mauria Martin (first team)
Lane Napier (first team)
Tarence Roby (first team)
Matt Romero (first team)
Ryan Durdon (second team)
Seth Fitzke (second team)
Jared Garcia (second team)
Tarence Roby (second team)
Erik Small (second team)
Sebastian Garces (honorable mention)
Nate Gilmore (honorable mention)
Kordell Glause (honorable mention)
Grady Koch (honorable mention)
Hallick Lehmann (honorable mention)
Austin Reese (honorable mention)
Shane Scott (honorable mention)
Coach Daberkow: What I love about our group of seniors is they’re ready. They’re ready for whatever is going to be thrown at them after graduation. It’s a selfless group of seniors. I’m going to miss them a lot. It’s hard to think about Concordia football without those guys, but we’ll move forward. This season we could confirm that we can compete with eight out of the other nine teams in our conference. We have some work to do to get to where Morningside’s at and to be a top-five program is not just going to happen overnight. It can happen for us if we approach our training and arrive with a purpose any time we go into the weight room or any training session. It all starts with player development and bringing in that right guys that are going to come in and work hard, be selfless and do what it takes on a daily basis.
Men’s and Women’s Golf
Men’s GPAC standing: 4th (288-295–583)
Women’s GPAC standing: 9th (383-376–759)
--Nolan Zikas: season average of 73.78 (nine rounds) with three top-10 finishes, including one top five; currently tied for fifth in the GPAC standings (70-73–143).
--Murphy Sears: season average of 85.88 (eight rounds) with two top-five finishes; currently in 13th place in the GPAC standings (85-86–171).
Fall highlights: Concordia remains in the hunt for a solid placement on the men’s side after carding a two-round score of 288-295–583 over the first two rounds of GPAC championships action. The 288 in round one equaled a program single-round record. Individually, Nolan Zikas claimed the best 18-hole score during the fall with his four-under-par 68 in the second round of the Blue River Classic. Zikas finished inside the top 10 at three different events and is the team’s top golfer in terms of 18-hole average. On the women’s side, Murphy Sears headlines a young team hoping to hit its stride this coming spring. Sears earned top-five individual finishes at the Midland Invite (Sept. 11) and the College of Saint Mary Fall Classic (Sept. 27). The women’s team’s low round of 372 came at the College of Saint Mary Fall Classic. Sears turned in each of the team’s top seven lowest individual rounds during the fall.
I was very pleased with how our men played this fall. They competed at a high level and we are in great shape going into the spring season. We are four strokes off placing in the top three in the conference and only 14 strokes out of first-place. At this point in the season, we are sitting in the best position in my tenure. We feel very confident about the spring season and excited about what we can accomplish going forward.
After the fall season, it is still apparent that we are a young team. With that being said, I was very pleased with our conference tournament results. We shot two of our lowest scores from the fall season at the conference meet. The fact that we are such a young team is very exciting moving forward. I expect us to have a solid spring season, especially playing our conference meet at Quail Run, which many of the girls are familiar with.
2017 record: 16-3-1 overall; 7-2 GPAC (T-2nd); GPAC tournament runner up
Jack Bennett: 7 shutouts, 0.82 gaa, .830 save%, 16-3-1 record, 20 games (20 starts)
Florian Caraballo: 1 goal, 6 assists, 19 games (19 starts)
Marcelo Hernandez: 11 goals, 10 assists, 19 games (17 starts)
Micah Lehenbauer: 12 goals, 2 assists, 19 games (17 starts)
Lewis Rathbone: 12 goals, 7 assists, 19 games (19 starts)
Season highlights: By many measures, the 2017 season was the best ever experienced by a Concordia men’s soccer team. The Bulldogs shattered the previous school standard of 12 wins in a season and marched to the GPAC tournament championship game for the third year in a row. The Bulldogs reached the title game by toppling Briar Cliff and Northwestern during their GPAC postseason run. Concordia remained in the race for a conference regular-season championship until a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Hastings in the final game prior to the GPAC tournament. The Bulldogs nearly cracked the NAIA top 25 poll, rising as high as third amongst “others receiving votes” while hovering around the top 40 of the official MRPI ratings all year. Concordia was the only GPAC team to have three players reach double figures in goals score: Micah Lehenbauer (12), Lewis Rathbone (12) and Marcelo Hernandez (11). The 2017 team set a new standard for Bulldog teams coached by Jason Weides (10th season), posting a goal differential of +35 (51 goals scored, 16 goals allowed).
Florian Caraballo (first team)
Marcelo Hernandez (first team)
Micah Lehenbauer (first team)
Jack Bennett (second team)
Carlos Ferrer (second team)
Lewis Rathbone (second team)
Angel Alvarez (honorable mention)
Kevin Sanchez (honorable mention)
Coach Weides: We fell short of our goal. We wanted to move on to nationals and keep playing. There were a lot of great things that happened over the course of this season and over four years for the seniors. Some of our seniors have been for just two years, some three and some all four. They’re leaving the program in great shape. You talk about leaving a legacy and they’ve left a great legacy. They left the program better than they found it – three straight GPAC finals and just a couple minutes away from getting to a fourth-straight final. Just beyond their talents, they’ve been great to be around and to coach. I think they were hungry from the start of the year and they maintained that hunger. There were a lot of challenges throughout the season with moments we were down a goal or something didn’t go our way. This group was really resilient. We kept focusing on our response. I think that’s what really separates this team. The reason why we were able to get to 16 wins is because they kept on responding positively throughout the year.
2017 record: 15-2-4 overall; 9-0-1 GPAC (1st); GPAC tournament runner up
--Chelsea Bright: started all 21 games
--Lindsey Carley: 7 shutouts, 0.49 gaa, .909 save%, 12-1-4, 17 games (17 starts)
--Maria Deeter: 10 goals, 10 assists, 21 games (21 starts)
--Kaitlyn Radebaugh: 9 goals, 1 assist, 21 games (1 start)
Season highlights: There was no bigger highlight than when the Bulldogs wrapped up the program’s first-ever conference regular-season title with a 1-0 win over 20th-ranked Hastings on Oct. 25. A team captained by junior Maria Deeter then went on to reach the conference tournament title game for the fourth year in a row. In both of Concordia’s victories over top 25 foes, freshman Kaitlyn Radebaugh emerged as the hero while providing the game winner in two 1-0 wins. Such a storybook season would not have been possible without the development of sophomore goalkeeper Lindsey Carley, who reeled in GPAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. Carley and the back line helped the Bulldogs break a program record by limiting opponents to just 14 goals all season. A senior class featuring the likes of Jeannelle Condame, Leah Shohat and Esther Soenksen ended their careers with a program record for most wins over a four-year period (60). Condame and Soenksen share the school record for most career games played (84). Deeter, a Seward native, has lived up to the billing that came with her out of Lincoln Lutheran High School. She paced the Bulldogs with 10 goals and 10 assists and collected first team All-GPAC accolades for the second year in a row.
Greg Henson (coach of the year)
Chelsea Bright (first team)
Lindsey Carley (defensive player of the year; first team)
Maria Deeter (first team)
Lauren Martin (second team)
Kaitlyn Radebaugh (second team)
Sami Birmingham (honorable mention)
Tori Cera (honorable mention)
Michaela Twito (honorable mention)
Coach Henson: Game in and game out there’s never been a doubt in my mind that they’re going to go out and play hard and do all the little things that are necessary for us to be successful. It’s been that way all year. I’m just really proud of their efforts throughout the season. We went completely through the GPAC regular season and postseason without losing a game and giving up three goals. It’s remarkable. I’m extremely proud of our senior class and those five that have had an unbelievable four-year career. They’re 9-1-2 in playoff games and that’s unheard of. I’m grateful that they came in and they believed in the vision I had for the program. They came in before we really had any success and have been the heart and soul of this program. They’ll be dearly missed. You can’t say enough about what they’ve accomplished. They made it such an easy job to coach.
2017 record: 9-19 overall; 3-13 GPAC (T-8th)
--Tara Callahan: 889 assists (9.0/set), 168 digs, 107 kills, 49 blocks, 21 aces (99 sets)
--Alex La Plant: team high 247 kills (2.5/set), 101 digs, 22 aces, 20 blocks (97 sets)
--Emmie Noyd: 176 kills (2.2/set), .308 hitting percentage, 72 blocks, 30 digs (79 sets)
Season highlights: The season wasn’t quite what anyone hoped in terms of wins and losses, but several young players took advantage of opportunities. Freshman Tara Callahan earned the starting role at setter and ran with it. Callahan’s finest moment may have been on Sept. 16 when she pulled off a rare triple-double, recording 33 assists, 12 kills and 11 digs. Sophomore Emmie Noyd, the team’s most efficient attacker, hit .308 and moved up to second team All-GPAC honors. She was also named to the All-Viking Invitational team for her performances Aug. 25-26 when she totaled 33 kills over three matches at Missouri Valley College. Concordia struggled while up against one of the nation’s most challenging schedules. The closest it came to upsetting a top 25 opponent occurred on Aug. 30 when the Bulldogs missed out on multiple match point opportunities in an eventual five-set loss to 20th-ranked Bellevue University.
Emmie Noyd (second team)
Tara Callahan (honorable mention)
Alex La Plant (honorable mention)