SEWARD, Neb. – It’s been a season of avengement for the Concordia University men’s soccer team. Handed a 4-1 loss by Bellevue University last year, the Bulldogs showed the program’s growth by picking up perhaps its most significant victory of the season to date. Concordia remained unbeaten with a 3-0 win over the Bruins inside Bulldog Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Eleventh-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad keeps on rolling. The Bulldogs remained undefeated at 9-0-1 overall, extending the program’s longest unbeaten streak. They did so by beating a perennially strong Bellevue program.
“Sometimes playing a nonconference game that’s in the middle of your conference season can be a challenge,” Weides said. “You’re so focused on conference play. You saw that last year. We just didn’t give our best effort (at Bellevue). I think the guys had a great mentality moving to this game. Bellevue is a very good team. They’ve had some unfortunate results this year, but they’re a good team. This is a good step forward for the program.”
Concordia had to come from behind to win twice during its early nonconference run. No comeback was necessary on Saturday. Red hot Lewis Rathbone extended his goal-scoring streak to six games by skillfully heading in a ball played from Kevin Sanchez. Rathbone has 11 goals overall this season and 10 over the past seven outings.
The Bulldogs weren’t done. Carlos Ferrer finished a pass from Marcelo Hernandez in the 31st minute, making for a 2-0 halftime advantage. Fresh off a hat trick in the 6-0 win over Mount Marty, Micah Lehenbauer found the back of the net in the 60th minute. A complete reversal of last season’s meeting had been polished off.
The Bulldogs finished with a 13-10 edge in shots. Junior Jack Bennett was called upon to make five saves to preserve the team’s sixth shutout of the season. It’s now been more than two weeks since Concordia last conceded a goal.
“I feel like a lot of the chances that Bellevue got came in set play situations,” Weides said. “They’re actually quite good in those situations so I thought we did well to defend them and keep a clean sheet. I’m just really impressed with our whole team in that regard. Jack made a couple nice saves and our backline played really well.”
Weides’ bunch is one of only six remaining undefeated teams in all of NAIA men’s soccer. Concordia is also one of four teams in the GPAC yet to suffer a conference loss. The only opponent to prevent the Bulldogs from claiming victory was Concordia University, Wisconsin, which earned a 1-1 draw in a battle of Concordias on Sept. 2.
The Bulldogs will return to conference play next week with a road trip to Briar Cliff (8-1, 1-0 GPAC) for a 3:30 p.m. CT kickoff in Sioux City, Iowa on Wednesday (Oct. 4). Last season a Marcelo Hernandez goal in overtime lifted Concordia to a 2-1 win over the Chargers in a game played in Seward. Wednesday’s showdown will feature two teams with one combined loss.
“It’s going to be a tough week for sure,” Weides said. “Both games at their places and both are tough environments to play in. Briar Cliff is off to a really great start. They’re very dangerous. They have the nation’s leading goal scorer right now. They’re just playing really well. We expect a great test.”