SEWARD, Neb. – It never seems to matter what the records show when Concordia and Doane get together in men’s soccer. In the 10-year tenure of head coach Jason Weides, every single meeting between the two nearby rivals has resulted in either a one-goal margin or a draw. In Wednesday’s affair, the Bulldogs held off a Tiger comeback attempt and earned a 2-1 win on a chilly night inside Bulldog Stadium.
Concordia effectively brushed off its first and only loss of the 2017 season. An unblemished 6-0 at home, the Bulldogs have moved to 11-1-1 overall and to 4-1 in conference play.
“Doane is better than what its record shows. I think they played well tonight and caused us some problems,” Weides said. “Credit to them. I think they forced us into not performing our best. On one hand, it was a response with three points and a win in terms of bouncing back. We still have a great room for improving our performance. The great news is we’re 11-1-1 and we can still get a lot better.”
Senior Luke Batters made his presence known beyond just his regular contributions as a center back. Career goal No. 1 for the native of Runcorn, England, proved to be the game winner. The 35th-minute goal was one of three set-piece shots that Batters put on frame. He came up just short of a multi-goal game against Doane keeper Nishesh Yadav, who tallied nine saves on the night.
The Tigers (2-12, 1-5 GPAC) have been somewhat of a tough luck outfit having now lost six times by just a single goal. They seemed to be energized by a Daniel Maganda score in the 60th minute. Doane made it a tense final 30 minutes despite being outshot, 19-8 (11-8 in shots on goal).
All season long, Concordia has found ways to win, even when playing at less than its best.
“Going into the game we were pretty confident,” Batters said. “Today we had a bad start. We had two goals and then as soon as they scored, they were on us all the time. We did a good job of shutting them down and defending. We were winning all the first balls.”
Senior forward Micah Lehenbauer extended his string of consecutive games with a goal to seven. A well-played cross from Florian Caraballo set up Lehenbauer for a point-blank shot in the 14th minute. The Bulldogs led the rest of the way. However, there were certainly some nervous moments. Goalkeeper Jack Bennett made a critical save in the 77th minute to preserve the one-goal lead.
The Bulldogs, one win away from tying a single-season program record for victories, hope to continue a perfect season at home when the resume action on Saturday. Concordia and visiting Morningside (7-2-3, 3-1 GPAC) are set to kick off at 8 p.m. CT from Bulldog Stadium. Last year’s meeting in Sioux City, Iowa, resulted in a 3-0 Concordia win. Weides and the rest of the Bulldogs expect to play a more complete game on Saturday.
“We’re going into every game like its final,” Batters said. “We’re treating every game like it’s the last game we play together. We have a lot of seniors this year and we just all don’t want to leave. We’ll do our best to keep winning.”