SEWARD, Neb. – Lewis Rathbone continued his goal scoring splurge on Saturday while helping ensure that the Concordia University men’s soccer team remained unbeaten. The program’s longest undefeated run to open a season since 1974 carries on after the Bulldogs earned a 3-0 win over visiting Kansas Wesleyan inside Bulldog Stadium.
Tenth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad will enter conference play with an overall record of 6-0-1. Only two other teams in school history have managed to go undefeated through a season’s first seven games. The 1973 (6-0-1) and 1974 (7-0) Bulldogs were the first to accomplish the same feat. Concordia is now the only team in the GPAC without a loss.
“This was maybe one of our more complete games from start to finish,” Weides said. “We actually started a game a little faster than we have. We’ve started slow and had to come back in several games. It’s nice for once to not have to respond from a deficit. I just think as the game wore on we got a little bit better. Kansas Wesleyan is a very good program.”
Weides had a feeling Rathbone would find the back of the net more often this season. Three days after recording the first hat trick of his career in a 4-2 win at Waldorf University, Rathbone burned the Coyotes (1-4) with his sixth and seventh goals of the year. His first one, assisted by Marcelo Hernandez, came in the 15th minute. He then added another early in the second half to put the game out of reach.
The contest could have been a lot more nerve racking had it not been for junior Jack Bennett’s save of a penalty kick in the 34th minute. Instead of going to the locker room with some momentum, Kansas Wesleyan faced a 2-0 deficit at the half. The Coyotes, a member of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, struggled to muster many opportunities on the attacking end. They were outshot 12-8 (8-4 in shots on goal). Bennett made four saves while picking up his third shutout of the season.
“Sparky (Mark Horsburgh) was a good keeper and I learned a lot of things from him,” Bennett said. “It was good to be behind him for two years. I feel like I’m a better goalkeeper for it.”
Sandwiched in between Rathbone’s two goals was a score from Carlos Ferrer in the 25th minute. Ferrer was facilitated on the play with an assist from Micah Lehenbauer. Ferrer and Rathbone combined to take seven of the team’s 12 shots.
“We knew he had that in him all the time,” Weides said of Rathbone’s emergence. “It’s good to see him get in those goal scoring positions. He’s going to put a few of those away for sure. He had a great strike on that third goal.”
Rathbone and company even signed autographs after the game. Youths from a Kearney soccer club attended the game and hung out on the field before and after the win.
The Bulldogs will take a mid-week bye before returning to action next Saturday (Sept. 23) for a trip to Dakota Wesleyan (3-4). Kickoff from Mitchell, S.D., is set for 6:30 p.m. CT. Concordia will attempt to avenge last season’s 2-1 defeat at Dakota Wesleyan.