FOREST CITY, Iowa – The first hat trick of senior Lewis Rathbone’s career helped the Concordia University men’s soccer team overcome a shots disadvantage of a 2-to-1 ratio in Wednesday afternoon’s action in Forest City, Iowa. Rathbone’s big day lifted the Bulldogs to a 4-2 victory over host Waldorf University.
The contest marked the second straight road contest that required 10th-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad to shake off a 1-0 deficit. Another come-from-behind win moved Concordia to 5-0-1 overall. In back-to-back matches, the Bulldogs have avenged 2016 losses.
“It’s nice in a sense to get redemption from results last year,” Weides said. “Those are three points essentially that we left on the table last year that we didn’t leave on the table this year. Maybe we didn’t play 90 minutes of great soccer, but we played well enough to get the result. That’s a promising thing.”
Not since 1974 has the program remained unbeaten this many games into a season. That doesn’t mean the Bulldogs are unfamiliar with success. A member of back-to-back teams to reach the GPAC tournament final, Rathbone broke a 1-1 tie in the 17th minute and then put Concordia in control with another goal in the 32nd minute. For good measure, Rathbone found the back of the net just after halftime, giving his team a commanding 4-1 lead.
Rathbone has been put in a position to score more goals this season with more of an attacking role. The native of Manchester, England, was deadly accurate on Wednesday, capitalizing on three of his four shots.
“He’s done good things for us this season. He’s in a position now to probably score more goals,” Weides said. “Part of the reason we have him in that position is because he has the ability to create chances. He’s naturally a little higher up in the field this year. He’s adapted well to that position. He’s definitely had to change his game from what he’s played the last couple years. It’s a completely different role.”
In terms of shots faced, junior goalkeeper faced his most stiffest test. The Warriors (4-3) put 10 of their 26 shots on frame, forcing Bennett to make a career high eight saves. The only real disappointment for Weides was a lull that let in Jean Bonnin’s goal in the 74th minute. With Waldorf down a man at that point, Concordia was able to see out its fifth victory of the campaign.
Senior Marcelo Hernandez knotted the game at 1-1 in the 11th minute. Hernandez’s fourth goal of the year was a quick response to the score by Jose Beltran in the fifth minute. Hernandez and Rathbone were responsible for taking seven of the team’s 13 shots. Carlos Ferrer assisted on a pair of goals.
The 1973 and 1974 squads are the only ones in program history to extend an undefeated run this far into a season. The ’73 team started out 6-0-1 before losing while the ’74 squad got out to a 7-0 start before suffering its first defeat.
The Bulldogs will return home for the first time since Aug. 29 when they host Kansas Wesleyan University (1-4) on Saturday. Kickoff is again set for 3:30 p.m. CT. Concordia has recorded home wins over Sterling College and York College.