Bulldog Weekly Report
Bulldog Athletes of the Week
Male: Von Thomas, Football
The Miami, Fla., native enjoyed an efficient performance in the Bulldogs’ 52-12 rout of Dordt on Sept. 22. The sophomore signal caller completed 14-of-23 passes for 164 yards and three touchdowns. Thomas ranks 16th in the NAIA in total offense per game with an average of 252.8.
Female: Rachel Mussell, Soccer
Mussell, a sophomore from Buffalo, Minn., had a hand in all four of Concordia’s goals in a pair of wins over the past week. She scored the team’s lone goal in a 1-0 victory over York on Sept. 19 and then added two goals and an assist in the 3-2 win over Dordt on Sept. 22. Her average of 1.17 goals per game leads the GPAC.
Concordia Sports Network: Live webcasts for most home varsity contests can be accessed by visiting http://www.cune.edu/csn at game time. Check team schedule/results pages for webcast dates. Scrimmages, exhibitions and junior varsity events are not broadcasted.
- Head coach Lisa White’s squad enjoyed a perfect 2-0 week, including a 3-2 victory over Dordt on Sept. 22 to open GPAC play. The Bulldogs have now won three-straight games after beginning the season with three-consecutive losses.
- Midfielder Rachel Mussell has emerged as one of the nation’s biggest breakout stars with seven goals through the team’s first six games. She added two more in the win over Dordt and also assisted on Concordia’s other goal in the contest. Mussell headlines a productive sophomore class that also includes midfielder Ashlie Sklenicka. The duo fueled the Bulldogs’ latest victory.
- “Rachel was awesome, and Ashlie really did well holding the ball,” White said. “Ashlie was very creative in her distribution and was effective in talking to her teammates so we had a clear understanding of what we were doing. Those two kids were phenomenal.”
- Mussell, who scored the team’s lone goal in the 1-0 triumph over York on Sept. 19, has at least one goal in four of Concordia’s first six games. The Buffalo, Minn., native now sits atop the conference in both points per game (2.5) and in goals per game (1.17). Those figures rank 27th and 23rd nationally, respectively. Her seven goals are only two off Mallorie Blanck’s team-leading total from last season and are five more goals than Mussell notched her entire freshman campaign.
- Junior forward Jordan Donohoue is first in the GPAC, and 24th in the NAIA, with 0.67 assists per game. She also has one goal.
- The key to Concordia’s recent resurgence has been improved efficiency on offense. The Bulldogs rank second in the conference with an average of 2.5 goals per game.
- “We had some great performances,” White said after the win over Dordt. “We possessed the ball very well. We moved it around them. They threatened us very little, particularly in the first half. I’m really happy with how the team moved the ball and worked together. There was a lot of good stuff to take away. We’re excited to start the GPAC season with a win.”
- Junior Jessica Clifford has seized control of the keeper position. The native of Spokane, Wash., started and played the entire 90 minutes in both games last week. She totaled four saves in the two games and earned a shutout in the win over York.
- Concordia now looks forward to a home matchup with Hastings on Wednesday at 5 p.m. The Broncos topped the Bulldogs twice last season, capturing victories by scores of 3-0 and 3-1. Hastings ended Concordia’s season in the semifinals of the GPAC Championships last season.
- Mussell and the Bulldogs remain at home on Saturday when Dakota Wesleyan comes to town for a 12 p.m. battle.
- Derek Blessing, named GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday, and the Bulldog football squad took out their frustrations from three losses by eight points or less to begin the season and thrashed Dordt, 52-12 on Sept. 22. Concordia, which struggled with turnovers in two of its first three losses, flipped the script in forcing five Defender turnovers to fuel the blowout win.
- “It was a good effort from our guys,” head coach Vance Winter said. “I thought we played for 60 minutes and took care of the little things that have been hurting us the past few games. We came out and we executed well I thought in all three phases.”
- Blessing again shined in the return game. His 71-yard punt return for a touchdown gave Concordia a 35-0 lead late in the first half and virtually put the game on ice. Blessing also took back a punt 56 yards for a score in the season opener versus Benedictine.
- Blessing, an Ogallala, Neb., native, leads the nation with an average of 28.0 yards per punt return and is second in the NAIA with 224 total punt return yards. He is also third nationally with an average of 35.2 yards per kick return. Despite being a defensive player, Blessing is 18th in the NAIA in all purpose yards with 487.
- “Every time I get the ball I just see what my other guys are doing,” Blessing said. “Without the other 10 guys on the team I wouldn’t be able to do that. They’re getting blocks for me. They’re making plays and it makes me look good. I just want to give a shout out to those guys.”
- Quarterback Von Thomas had his most efficient game of the season versus Dordt. The signal caller from Miami, Fla., completed 14 of 23 pass attempts for 164 yards and three touchdowns. He is averaging 252.8 total yards per game, a figure that ranks third in the GPAC and 13th among all NAIA players.
- Senior kicker Kenny Zoeller connected on three more field goals on Sept. 22, with a long of 41 yards. Zoeller, who hails from Spring, Texas, is now a perfect 10-for-10 on the season on field goal attempts. His 10 field goals are the most in the nation and his 42 points are the most among all NAIA kickers.
- The 52-point effort marked the Bulldogs’ first 50-point output since Sept. 28, 2004, when Concordia defeated Dakota Wesleyan 55-13.
- The scoring binge versus Dordt bumped the Bulldogs’ points per game average to 34.5 on the season. That figure places them at 15th in the NAIA and is nearly 20 points per game better than Concordia’s average of 16.7 from last season.
- The Bulldogs break away from GPAC play on Saturday when they travel to Dakota State for a 4 p.m. matchup in Madison, S.D. Concordia defeated Dakota State 49-21 on Oct. 1 of last year. Winter earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Dakota State in 2002.
- Led by the attack of senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker and sophomore right side Amanda Abbott, the Bulldogs enjoyed perhaps their most successful week of the season. They first defeated Nebraska Wesleyan in Lincoln on Sept. 18, 25-20, 27-25, 15-25, 26-24, before returning home to top Dakota Wesleyan, 25-17, 20-25, 24-26, 25-23, 15-9, on Sept. 22.
- Kisker put up her best statistical performance of the season in the victory over Nebraska Wesleyan. She posted 19 kills in 40 attempts and added 13 digs defensively. Head coach Scott Mattera praised her leadership after the match.
- “Amanda had a huge match statistically, but I was even more proud of her for an adjustment she made in the fourth game,” Mattera said. “She made the commitment to stick to discipline and really made some great momentum plays defensively that gave us a ton of energy. She showed what a leader does.”
- Kisker was supported by standout performances from several teammates in Concordia’s first GPAC victory. Sophomore Mariah Schamp piled up nine kills and 3.5 blocks and sophomore Amanda Abbott looked comfortable on the right side with 11 kills. Meanwhile, sophomore Jami Nekoliczak had 27 assists and sophomore Carli Smith (16 digs) played a fantastic match at libero both defensively and in serve receive.
- Concordia’s second home match of the season took place Sept. 22. While the Bulldogs were sloppier than they had been four days earlier, they found a way to win a match they trailed 2-1 after three sets.
- “It wasn’t always pretty,” Mattera said. “The message we gave to them in the locker room was it resembled what we did in practice all week. We figured out how to finish, we figured out how to win a game even though we’re not performing perfectly. We were sloppy but we found a way to pull it out and I’m really proud of them for it.”
- Abbott emerged as the team’s biggest star in the win. She racked up a match-high 17 kills on the strength of a sizzling .394 hitting percentage. “We knew we were going to win, we knew we were the better team,” Abbott said afterward. “By working really hard and doing what we do best, we won that game.”
- Kisker ranks third in the GPAC in kills per set at 3.3. Smith is second in the league with an average of 4.7 digs per set. As a team, Concordia is fifth in the GPAC with 1.5 service aces per set.
- Mattera’s squad, now 5-9 overall and 2-3 in GPAC action, will go up against its sixth ranked opponent of the season when it plays at No. 7 Hastings on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The Bulldogs hit the road again on Saturday for a 3 p.m. match at Morningside.
- Junior forward Nathan Douglas and the Concordia men’s soccer team (6-2, 0-1 GPAC) split a pair of games over the past week. The Bulldogs pulled away late for a 3-1 nonconference victory over in-state York on Sept. 19. They then opened up GPAC play with a 2-0 loss at Dordt on Sept. 22.
- Douglas had his first multiple goal effort of the season in the win over York. His bookend goals early and late in the contest provided the margin in the game. His performance on Sept. 22 gave him three goals in a two-game span. His three goals for the season lead a Bulldog team that has seen nine different players find the back of the net.
- “It’s always a good feeling scoring,” Douglas said. “The first one was real early. We started off real quick, but then we kind of faded a bit and let them back in the game. Second half we just persevered and kept pushing as a team. I’m just thankful to get those balls to finish the game off for us.”
- Freshman defender Sean Doran, known for his ability to win the ball away from opposing attackers, continued to also make a contribution offensively. He was credited with the game-winning goal (second goal of the season) over York and also added an assist in the game.
- Concordia has not trailed in any of its six wins this season. It has only fallen behind in the 1-0 loss to Bethel (Ind.) on Sept. 7 and in the 2-0 loss to Dordt in its most recent outing.
- “We found ourselves in a hole that proved too much to overcome,” head coach Jason Weides said of the GPAC opener in Sioux Center, Iowa. “We had plenty of opportunities for ourselves but couldn't get the first breakthrough. We played good in small spurts but just not consistent enough to win the match.”
- Each team had 11 total shots and five on goal in the Bulldogs’ 2-0 loss. Dordt (5-3, 1-0 GPAC) limited Douglas to two shots, including one on goal. Sophomore midfielder Chris DeFeyter was the most active on the attack for the Bulldogs with three total shots and two on goal.
- Senior forward Aaron Skipworth, still one goal away from tying Concordia’s career goals record, continues to lead the GPAC in both assists (4) and assists per game (0.5). Dean Stevens’ two game-winning goals are tied with two other players for the second most in the conference. Meanwhile, Skipworth and Douglas rate Nos. 4 and 5 in the league in shots on goal per game.
- The Bulldogs, who gave up more than one goal in a game for the first time on Sept. 22, lead the GPAC with 0.75 goals allowed per game. They are second in shots on goal per game at 7.88.
- Concordia will get another stiff challenge on Wednesday as No. 16 Hastings comes to town for a 7:30 p.m. contest. The then No. 1 Broncos defeated the Bulldogs 3-0 on Sept. 28 of last year. Concordia brings a 10-game home winning streak into the pivotal matchup.
- Only Morningside’s Brandon Thompson carded a lower score than Concordia sophomore Shawn Rodehorst on the second and final day of the Doane Invite on Sept. 18. Rodehorst’s three-over-par 74 on day two helped push the Bulldogs into a tie for seventh place after concluding day one in 10th at Wilderness Ridge Golf Course in Lincoln, Neb.
- “Shawn played solid both days,” head coach Brett Muller said following the meet. “He was seven-over-par after seven holes and finished the 36-hole event at 10 over. Brock bounced back from a tough first day and improved by 25 strokes. We saw some glimpses of how good we can be. We need to be more consistent and keep grinding it out each and every round.”
- Freshman Sam Simonson (82-90–172) and junior Sam DeFreece (85-87–172) followed behind Rodehorst with identical 172 totals. Freshmen Mitchell Volk (91-89–180) and Brock Colclasure (104-79–183) came in next for the Bulldogs. Colclasure shaved 25 strokes off his Monday score, marking the biggest improvement of any of the 76 golfers in the field.
- The women’s Doane Invite, also considered a fall preview of the 2013 NAIA Women’s Golf National Championships, began on Monday. Concordia concluded the day in 18th place. Senior Makenzie Deutshman turned in the team’s lowest score with a 19-over-par 90, good for 53rd place individually.
- Concordia sophomore Shawn Rodehorst continued his stellar play on Monday, finishing in a tie for 18th place among 79 golfers at the grueling 36-hole, one-day Hastings Invite. Rodehorst carded a 10-over-par 77-75–152 in starring for a Bulldog squad that concluded the invite in 11th place.
- Following Rodehorst at the Hastings Invite for Concordia were a quartet of freshmen in Garrett Suchanek (83-78–161), Mitchell Volk (84-86–170), Sam Simonson (89-82–171) and Brock Colclasure (84-88 – 172) and sophomore Andy Nevius (97-89–186).
- Both the men and women will conclude their seasons with GPAC Qualifier events. The women’s GPAC Qualifier No. 2 will be held Oct. 3 at Wilderness Ridge Golf Course. The men’s GPAC Qualifier No. 2 will follow a week later and take place in Sioux City.
- Head coach Kregg Einspahr’s men’s and women’s squads have been off since beginning their seasons at the Woody Greeno Invite on Sept. 15.
- Senior Sarah Kortze added two more honors to her growing list of achievements on Sept. 19 when she collected both the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Week and NAIA National Women's Cross Country Runner of the Week awards for her performance at the Greeno Invite. The Rockford, Ill., native’s time of 21:54.88 in the 6K placed her seventh overall among the field of 289 competitors, including many from the GPAC and NCAA Division I schools.
- Sophomore Ben Sievert also received GPAC honors on Sept. 19 because of his strong performance at the Greeno Invite. Sievert was named GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Week after clocking in at 26:10.3 in the 8K race to finish in 31st place overall among the field of 333 participants, with many coming from the GPAC as well as the NCAA Division I level.
- Both Bulldog squads will continue their seasons on Saturday when they travel to the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minn., for the Griak Invitational.
25 September 2012