Bulldog Weekly Report
Bulldog Athletes of the Week
Male: Derek Blessing, Football
Cornerback/return man Derek Blessing terrorized Benedictine coverage units this past Saturday, racking up 210 total return yards. The 5-foot-10 junior’s 56-yard punt return for a touchdown pulled the Bulldogs within 45-37 with 2:56 left in the game. Blessing also had kickoff returns of 60 and 51 yards. Defensively, the Ogallala, Neb., native amassed eight total tackles and two pass breakups.
Female: Rachel Mussell, Women’s Soccer
Midfielder Rachel Mussell broke loose with a huge effort in Concordia’s 5-4 loss to the University of Nebraska-Kearney on Aug. 23. She became the first Bulldog since October of 2009 to go for the hat trick as she burned the Loper defense for three goals. With that performance, the Buffalo, Minn., native surpassed her 2011 season total of two goals.
- Scott Mattera’s first season as Bulldog head volleyball coach will get started this weekend in Bellevue, Neb., as part of the Bellevue Labor Day Tournament. Concordia will play two matches each on Friday and Saturday, beginning with Baker (Kan.) on day one at 1 p.m. and Benedictine (Kan.) at 5 p.m. Stiff challenges await on Saturday as the Bulldogs face No. 13 Grand View (Iowa) at 1:30 p.m. and No. 19 Bellevue at 5:30 p.m.
- “We definitely loaded up the schedule this year,” Mattera said. “We’re going to find out who we are right away and the things we need to work on. It’s exactly what the preseason non-conference schedule is for. We’ll get a view of some really good teams who hopefully will show us what we need to work on and what we’re successful at. We’re really looking forward to getting on the court.”
- The Bulldogs have engaged in several team activities, including a trip to Branched Oak Lake in Raymond, Neb., since reporting to campus on Aug. 17. Mattera believes these outings are key to developing a strong team bond. “It’s absolutely vital for a few reasons. No. 1, there are so many new people. Ten of the 27 on the team are brand new and being a fall sport, they basically walk on campus and have to be in on the team. Another reason is that volleyball is a very trust-based sport. Every skill you do other than serving, somebody else does something either with your touch or your touch is dependent on the one before you.”
- Mattera will get a better look at his squad tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the blue-white scrimmage in Walz Arena. Admission is free for the scrimmage.
- The team’s first official home match is Sept. 11 when GPAC rival Doane visits Seward.
- Head coach Lisa White’s squad has dropped its first two games in non-conference battles with Benedictine (Kan.), 9-1 on Aug. 20, and NCAA Division II Nebraska-Kearney, 5-4 on Aug. 23.
- Sophomore midfielder Rachel Mussell emerged as a breakout star in the loss to Nebraska-Kearney, as she pulled the hat trick by netting three goals. The effort topped her season total of two goals as a freshman.
- Mussell became the first Bulldog to post three goals in one game since Oct. 10, 2009, when Carolyn Chrzan came up with a hat trick of her own in a 4-2 Concordia win over Briar Cliff.
- Said White of Mussell following the Aug. 23 game: “She’s so effective and consistent and so coachable. She’s a phenomenal teammate, and you can’t ask for a kid to do more. She will keep trying and keep trying. I’m glad she’s seeing some rewards for those really hard efforts and sticking to what we’re asking her to do.”
- Senior defender and Lincoln native Kyleah Bowder has now made 21-consecutive starts and 41 starts overall in her career.
- Twenty-two different players have seen action in at least one of the first two games, with 14 players making at least one start.
- Bulldog opponents have out-numbered Concordia 55-17 in shots and 35-8 in shots on goal through the first two games. However, the Bulldogs played the Lopers evenly in the second half with each team notching six shots as Concordia ratcheted up its defensive intensity.
- Concordia is off until Sept. 5 when it travels to Bellevue University for a 6 p.m. contest. The Bulldogs do not return home until Sept. 19 when York comes to Bulldog Stadium. Mussell and company will look to avenge a 2-1 home loss to the Bruins in the opening game of last season.
- A strong class of 17 freshmen played a major role in the Bulldogs’ 2-0-0 start. Jason Weides’ club took a pair of games in Oskaloosa, Iowa, over the weekend as a total of 10 freshmen played in at least one of the two contests.
- Says Weides of the youth movement: “They have done very well. We’ve thrown a lot to the fire right away,” Weides said. “(Friday) night five freshmen started and another five came off the bench and provided some quality minutes, and there’s really no drop off.”
- Concordia’s pressure defense shined in both the 3-0 win over William Penn (Iowa) on Aug. 24 and the 2-0 victory over Ottawa (Kan.) on Aug. 25. The Bulldogs notched back-to-back shutouts for the first time since wins on Sept. 17 and Sept. 22 of last season.
- In particular, freshmen outside backs Justin Lawrie and Ben Walker, freshman center back Sean Doran and midfielders Ian Euhler and Gideon Soenksen have made life especially tough for opposing strikers. Opponents have fired off only seven combined shots on goal, about one-third the Bulldogs’ corresponding number of 20. Ottawa struggled to put together possessions with even three or more passes in the Aug. 25 Concordia victory.
- Brendan Buchanan, making his fourth and fifth career starts in goal over the weekend, got credit for a pair of shutouts in which he logged the entire 90 minutes. He made four saves versus William Penn and added three more against Ottawa.
- Senior forward Aaron Skipworth, still two goals off the school record of 31 career goals by Bernie Ochoa, has yet to find the back of the net this season, but already has two assists. He leads the team with five shots on goal.
- The Bulldogs have another tune up on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. when they entertain a club team in a scrimmage game at Bulldog Stadium. Their first official home game will be held Saturday at 7 p.m. with William Woods (Mo.) serving as the opponent.
- Head coach Vance Winter’s squad opened its 2012 campaign on Aug. 25 in one of the season’s first college football games across the nation. The Bulldogs pushed No. 13 Benedictine to the wire before falling, 45-37, at Bulldog Stadium.
- The typically stout Raven defense held its opponents to 21 points or less in 11 of 12 games in 2011. For the season, Benedictine ranked third nationally in scoring defense (12.4 ppg).
- Return man Derek Blessing played a big role in keeping Concordia within striking distance, particularly in the fourth quarter. Blessing broke loose for a 51-yard kick return with 11:14 left in the game that put the Bulldogs at the Benedictine 44-yard line and set up a touchdown drive that got Concordia within two touchdowns at 45-31. Blessing later returned a punt 56 yards for a score with 2:56 remaining to get within eight, 45-37. Blessing finished with 210 return yards on the night. Blessing, who moved from running back last year to starting cornerback this season, is a threat any time he gets in the open field. “He just really had an unbelievable effort, unbelievable football game,” Winter said. “For his first game at corner, he played great and also on special teams, he was electric.”
- Sloppy play by the Ravens in the first quarter helped Concordia take a 9-7 lead early in the second stanza. A botched snap on a punt, a fumbled kickoff and an interception on three-straight Benedictine possessions put the Bulldogs on the Raven 30-yard line or closer in each instance. Concordia ended up settling for Kenny Zoeller field goals on all three possessions. Concordia also had a drive come to an end on downs at the Raven five-yard line with 5:41 left in the game.
- The coaching staff was left to wonder what could have been had the offense executed in the red zone. “We were really disappointed with how we started the game offensively,” Winter said. “We left a lot of points on the field. I think in the second half we started doing some of the things we thought we could do. We did some good things, we did some very positive things, but we also left a lot of opportunities out there.”
- Quarterback Von Thomas appeared comfortable in new offensive coordinator Curran White’s scheme. He threw for 157 yards and two touchdowns and led the team with 69 yards rushing and a touchdown. The rushing touchdown was the first in Thomas’ career, which now includes 10 total games and two starts. Said Winter, “Our offense got better as he got better.”
- The Benedictine offense got on a roll in the third quarter and kept it going until early in the final period. The Ravens scored touchdowns on four-straight possessions beginning with their first drive of the second half. The 28-7 run on the scoreboard staked the Ravens to a 45-23 lead before Concordia fought back to end the game. Benedictine’s outside run game (207 total rushing yards) and efficient passing attack from Bill Noonan had the Bulldog defense off balance.
- Concordia now has a bye before returning to action Sept. 8 when Dakota Wesleyan comes to town. The Tigers were picked by GPAC coaches to finish tied for fourth in the league, while media pegged them to come in seventh.
- Head coach Kregg Einspahr’s men’s and women’s cross country squads will begin the 2012 campaign in familiar territory – among the nation’s top 25 in the country. The women, which have finished in the top 20 at the National Championships in 17 of the last 18 years, come in at No. 10 in the NAIA Women’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, released on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the men will start the 2012 season at No. 19 in the NAIA rankings.
- The women’s squad, led by 2011 All-American Sarah Kortze, concluded last season at No. 17 after rising as high as 11th. Kortze returns this season along with another All-GPAC performer in fellow senior Jena Schwalenberg. With the team’s top-two runners back in the fold this season, expectations are high once again. Kortze and company are determined to bring the GPAC crown back to Seward, where it remained in 2004 and 2005.
- On the other hand, the men struggled down the stretch in 2011 and missed the National Championships for the first time in 11 years and were unranked in the postseason poll. The Bulldogs checked in as high as No. 13 in the coaches’ poll, but faltered with top runner Colin Morrissey’s injury issues playing a part in the disappointing finish. Morrissey, the 2010 GPAC runner up, is back for his senior season and hopes to bring the squad back to national prominence.
- Concordia will host the blue-white alumni run on Sept. 8. Both the men’s and women’s teams will compete in their first meet of the season on Sept. 15 at the Greeno Invite in Lincoln.
- Head coach Brett Muller’s women’s team tees off the 2012-13 season at the Midland Invite on Friday in Midland, Neb. The men get started Sept. 6-7 at the Siouxland Invite, with the first day held in Orange City, Iowa, before moving to Sioux Center, Iowa, on day two.
- A comprehensive preview of both the men’s and women’s squads will be released on Wednesday.
28 August 2012
Derek Blessing (No. 21) returned a punt 56 yards for a touchdown and totaled 210 return yards in Saturday's 45-37 loss to No. 13 Benedictine.
Rachel Mussell (No. 29) lit up the back of the net with a hat trick in a 5-4 loss to Nebraska-Kearney on Aug. 23.