Previewing Saturday's homecoming slate

Previewing Saturday’s homecoming slate

Saturday features another full slate of Bulldog athletic action as Concordia University celebrates homecoming. Bulldog football and men’s and women’s soccer will all take the field at Bulldog Stadium on Saturday, while the volleyball program will be at Dakota Wesleyan.

All of Saturday’s home games can be seen live online via the Concordia Sports Network. Here’s a look at what to expect in each of those contests.

No. 11 Northwestern (5-1, 3-1 GPAC) at Concordia (3-3, 2-2 GPAC), 1 p.m.

Opponent: Northwestern brings a No. 11 national ranking into Saturday’s 1 p.m. tilt. The Red Raiders have won four-straight games since losing their early-season showdown to then No. 10 Morningside by a 34-7 score on Sept. 8. Northwestern’s most impressive win came on Sept. 15 when it topped then No. 16 Doane 28-14. As a team, the Red Raiders rank first nationally in sacks (24), seventh in total offense (470.8), eighth in rush defense (91.7), ninth in rush offense (250.2) and 11th in total defense (263.5). Their two-headed rushing attack of Brandon Smith (638 yards, 8 touchdowns) and Theo Bartman (622 yards, 7 touchdowns) has been a handful for opposing defenses. On the other side of the ball, nose guard Jordan Carlson, fourth in the nation with 7.0 sacks, has been a terror on the interior.

Previous Meeting: The Red Raiders protected their home turf with a 35-10 victory over the Bulldogs on Oct. 15 of last year. Concordia committed six turnovers and managed only 192 total yards of offense. For Northwestern, Smith and Bartman combined for 136 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. The Bulldogs’ Michael Voelker had a standout game with 11 total tackles and a sack from his defensive line position.

Statistical Leaders:
Passing – Von Thomas: 98-for-176, 1,087 yards, 12 TD, 6 INT
Rushing – Thomas: 52 att, 283 yards, 5.4 avg., 5 TD
Receiving – Noah Smith: 21 catches, 289 yards, 13.8 avg, 3 TD
Defense – Derek Blessing: 47 tkls, 2 INT, 3 pbu, FF
Passing – Davis Bloemendaal: 83-for-149, 1,082 yards, 10 TD, 3 INT
Rushing – Brandon Smith: 111 att, 638 yards, 5.7 avg., 8 TD
Receiving – Theo Bartman: 21 catches, 311 yards, 14.8 avg., 2 TD
Defense – Jordan Carlson: 47 tkls, 10.5 tfls, 7.0 sacks, 2 FF

Key Notes:
-Northwestern has won the past nine meetings in the series. The Bulldogs last win over the Red Raiders came in 2002 when Concordia won 43-37 in Orange City, Iowa.
-The Bulldogs enter Saturday third in the GPAC in scoring with 35.2 points per game. Northwestern ranks fourth with 33.8 points per contest. The Red Raiders are No. 1 in the GPAC in both total offense and rush offense. Defensively, Northwestern is second in the conference in fewest points allowed per game (17.8) and second in total defense. Concordia’s defense is fifth in both scoring (22.7) and total defense.
-While the Bulldog defense allows 374.8 total yards of offense per game (fifth in the GPAC), it has thrived on forcing opponents to make mistakes. Concordia caused five more turnovers at Briar Cliff, four on interceptions, to push its season total to 19 takeaways. The Bulldogs own a turnover margin of plus-seven, having committed 12 turnovers of their own. The defense has forced five turnovers in a game on three occasions and has picked off 11 passes, led by the three interceptions of safety Darnell Woods. Defensive backs Derek Blessing and Trey Haggerty have two interceptions apiece.
-Several Bulldogs rank highly on the national statistical leaderboards. Thomas is 24th in the NAIA in total offensive yards per game at 228.3. Blessing remains the top punt returner in the nation with an average of 26.1 yards per return. Blessing is also second in total punt return yards with 235.
-Kicker Kenny Zoeller missed his first field goal this season on Oct. 6, pushing the ball to the left from 42 yards out. However, the Spring, Texas, native remains No. 1 nationally with 11 made field goals and is first in scoring among kickers with 55 points.

Women’s Soccer: Morningside (6-4-4, 2-2-2 GPAC) at Concordia (4-6, 2-3 GPAC), 5 p.m.

Opponent: Morningside is unbeaten in its last three contests having played to scoreless ties with Northwestern and Hastings to begin the month before winning at Mount Marty on Wednesday, 3-0. The Mustangs are 1-1 versus ranked opponents with the lone top-25 win coming on Sept. 11 when they defeated then No. 21 Bellevue 1-0. Forward Miranda Gonka serves as the team’s top offensive threat as she leads Morningside with nine goals on the season and 13 for her career. Behind goalkeeper Felicia Reimann, the Mustangs rank No. 12 in the NAIA in team shutouts with five. Morningside is the toughest team to score upon in the GPAC with an average of 1.29 goals allowed per game.

Previous Meeting: Concordia got the best of Morningside by a 2-0 score on Oct. 15 of last year. The Bulldogs coasted on the strength of two goals in the first five minutes of the contest. Jordan Donohoue and Molly Humlicek knocked in a goal apiece for the victors. Concordia goalkeeper Ariel Harris made 10 saves to preserve the shutout in what was the first of three-straight wins for the Bulldogs.

Statistical Leaders:
Goals – Rachel Mussell: 11
Assists – Jordan Donohoue/Emily Fleming: 4
Points – Mussell: 23
Goalkeeper – Jessica Clifford: 2-3 W-L, 547 min, 20 SV, 2.137 GAA, 1 SHO
Goals – Miranda Gonka: 9
Assists – Kelsey Niles: 5
Points – Gonka: 18
Goalkeeper – Felicia Reimann: 4-4-4 W-L-T, 76 SV, 1.18 GAA, 5 SHO

Key Notes:
-The Bulldogs have won three in a row in the series versus the Mustangs, including a 3-2 win in 2009, a 3-0 victory in 2010 and the 2-0 triumph last year.
-Rachel Mussell’s two goals in the win over Mount Marty on Oct. 6 marked her third multi-goal game of the season. She sits tied with Doane’s Courtney Richards for the most goals in the GPAC. Mussell scored in five-straight games between Sept. 19 and Oct. 6 and in seven of the team’s first nine games this season. She is tied atop the conference in goals per game (1.1), second in points per game (2.3) and tied for fourth in shots on goal per game (2.0).
-Junior forward Jordan Donohoue and junior defender Emily Fleming both sit tied for second in the conference in assists per game at 0.4.
-As a team, the Bulldogs rank third in the GPAC in goals per game (1.9), third in assists per game (1.2) and fifth in shots on goal per game (8.3).
-Concordia is 2-3 in home games this season after going 6-2 at Bulldog Stadium in 2011. Morningside had lost four-consecutive away games until Wednesday’s win and is 2-3-2 overall in road games on the season.

Men’s Soccer: Morningside (5-8-1, 3-2-1 GPAC) at Concordia (9-4, 2-3 GPAC), 7:30 p.m.

Opponent: Morningside will enter Saturday’s action with a mark of 3-1-1 in its last five games, including a win over Mount Marty, 4-0, on Wednesday. The Mustangs have been beaten handily in two games this season versus ranked opponents. They fell 4-1 to then No. 10 MidAmerica Nazarene University on Sept. 15 and dropped a 5-0 decision to No. 24 Hastings on Oct. 6. Morningside spreads its offensive attack around, employing a roster with five players who have drilled two or more goals. Saxx Adams’ eight goals are best on the team and tied for third in the GPAC. Saxx went for a hat trick in Morningside’s latest win. As a team, the Mustangs rank sixth in the conference in goals per game at 1.86.

Previous Meeting: Concordia and Morningside played to a 2-2 draw last Oct. 15 in Sioux City, Iowa. Aaron Skipworth and Nathan Douglas notched a goal apiece for the Bulldogs, who dominated shot statistics. Concordia mustered 23 shots (12 on goal) to the Mustangs’ 13 (six on goal). Chris Podlich played the entire game in goal for the Bulldogs and made four saves.

Statistical Leaders:
Goals – Nathan Douglas: 8
Assists – Sean Doran/Aaron Skipworth: 4
Points – Douglas: 17
Goalkeeper – Chris Podlich: 5-3 W-L, 615 min, 20 SV, 1.023 GAA, 2 SHO
Goals – Saxx Adams: 8
Assists –Chico Hernandez: 4
Points – Adams: 19
Goalkeeper – Evaristo Hernandez: 1-4-1 W-L, 42 SV, 1.92 GAA

Key Notes:
-Morningside holds a 2-0-1 record against Concordia over the past three seasons. The Bulldogs last win over the Mustangs came in 2008 when Concordia cruised to a 4-0 victory in Sioux City.
-Senior forward Aaron Skipworth tied Bernie Ochoa’s school record of 31 career goals on Tuesday when he scored the Bulldogs’ only goal in the 3-1 loss at Midland.
- Freshman midfielder Jake Sells became the 11th Bulldog to score a goal this season when sophomore defender Daniel Moore’s strike deflected off of the Central Christian keeper. Sells deposited the ball into the net to break the scoreless tie in the second half of the victory over Central Christian on Oct. 3.
-Nathan Douglas, a native of Winnepeg, Canada, has five goals in the past four games and eight goals overall, all since Sept. 15. Last season he led the team with 11 goals.
-The Bulldogs also rank No. 4 in the conference in goals per game at 2.0. Individually, Douglas has vaulted up to No. 3 in the GPAC in goals per game (0.73) and fourth in points per game (1.55). Skipworth is fifth in the league with 0.36 assists per game.
-The Bulldogs are 4-1 at home this season and have won 14 of their last 15 at Bulldog Stadium with the lone loss coming in overtime to Hastings on Sept. 26. Morningside is 4-3 on the road and has won three-straight away from home with victories over Mount Marty, Doane and Briar Cliff.

Volleyball: Concordia (8-12, 4-6 GPAC) at Dakota Wesleyan (4-19, 0-6 GPAC), 3 p.m.

Opponent: Dakota Wesleyan is still searching for its first conference win and has lost 12 of 13 overall. The Tigers most recent victory came on Sept. 26 when they topped Dakota State in five sets. Dakota Wesleyan has dropped four of its first six GPAC matches in three sets. In their only contest against a ranked opponent, the Tigers were defeated in straight sets by then No. 19 Bellevue on Aug. 24. Dakota Wesleyan will lean on Danielle Bird (267 kills, 3.2 kill/set) to finish off points on the attack. Bird will be set up at the net by Briana Jung, who is tops on the team with 620 assists for an average of 7.95 per set. As a team, the Tigers do not appear in the top five of the conference in any major statistical categories.

Previous Meeting: These two teams met earlier this season as Concordia won 25-17, 20-25, 24-26, 25-23, 15-9 at Walz Arena on Sept. 22. Concordia sophomore right side Amanda Abbott went for a match-high 17 kills on the strength of a .394 hitting percentage. Senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker added 16 kills and 13 digs, while Carli Smith led with 27 digs. Dakota Wesleyan got 12 kills apiece from Sarah Kruse and Danielle Bird.

Statistical Leaders:
Kills – Amanda Kisker: 254 (3.5/set)
Assists – Jami Nekoliczak: 372 (5.1/set)
Digs – Carli Smith: 363 (5.0/set)
Blocks – Mariah Schamp: 51 (0.7/set)
Dakota Wesleyan:
Kills – Danielle Bird: 267 (3.2/set)
Assists – Briana Jung: 620 (8.0/set)
Digs – Maggie Stehly: 247 (2.9/set)
Blocks – Elizabeth Mahsem: 63 (0.8/set)

Key Notes:
-The Bulldogs have won the last three in the series since losing to Dakota Wesleyan in straight sets on Oct. 8, 2010. All three of those wins have come in five sets
-With 363 digs on the season, Carli Smith has already surpassed the 350 she tallied last year as a freshman, when she averaged 4.2 digs per set. She has increased her average to 5.0 this year, a number that leads the GPAC.
-Amanda Kisker now sits at 987 career kills, including the 205 she recorded during her freshman season at Dana College. She also moved up to No. 3 on the GPAC leaderboard for this season with 3.5 kills per set after her outstanding week. She has put down double-figures in kills in 14 of the team’s 20 matches this season.
-The Bulldogs have moved up to seventh place in the GPAC thanks to four victories in the past seven conference matches. Four of the team’s six GPAC losses have come against ranked teams and seven of Concordia’s 12 losses overall have come to top 25 opponents.
-The Bulldogs are 2-6 in true road matches this season (4-4 neutral). The Tigers own a record of 2-9 at home.

11 October 2012

Victor Brown

Meredith Hein

Aaron Skipworth

Amanda Abbott