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Recapping the fall of 2018

By Jake Knabel on Nov. 19, 2018 in Athletic Announcements

SEWARD, Neb. – Bulldog athletics completed the fall 2018 campaign with a sixth-place positioning in the GPAC All-Sports Trophy Standings. The conference also updates the standings at the close of the winter and spring sport seasons. Concordia collected 44.5 fall points (24.5 women, 20 men) towards the all-sports standings.

The Bulldogs athletic department is a three-time winner of the GPAC All-Sports Trophy championship (2003, 2005, 2015). The sports that counted towards the fall standings were men’s and women’s cross country, football, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball.

Read on for a complete breakdown of the fall in Concordia athletics.

TOP MOMENT

Deeter returns from injury to play in GPAC championship game
In a fall season without any individual or team conference championships, this moment takes the cake. When senior captain Maria Deeter went down with a serious knee injury at Jamestown on Oct. 20, it appeared likely that her career was over. At the time, only two games remained in the regular season before the Concordia women’s soccer program would take aim at another GPAC postseason championship run. An all-time great for the program, Deeter refused to believe that this was the end for her. She did sit out the last two regular season games, but then suited up and actually made a brief appearance in the GPAC quarterfinals.

Head coach Greg Henson had been game planning to move on without Deeter. But in the days leading up to the conference championship game at Hastings on Nov. 8, Deeter appeared to be ready to make a return. She certainly wasn’t 100 percent, but it didn’t matter. She would risk the possibility of aggravating that right knee. She wore a brace on it at Hastings and played more than 100 minutes of the double overtime title game. The 1-0 defeat prevented a storybook ending, but Deeter further cemented her status as one of the very best – and toughest – to ever play soccer for the Bulldogs.

Said Henson after the game, “What a warrior that she is with the condition she is. She gave us everything she had tonight. I thought she put us in opportunities to steal a win on some of those set pieces. We’ve been talking about (starting her) since she got the green light to come back. To cap off your college career fighting through that injury says a lot about who she is and how much success she’s going to have in the future.”

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Zikas breaks program record; Placke stars as freshman
Both golf programs have stars to lead them. One is a familiar face in senior Nolan Zikas, who has courageously battled with cancer during his youthful years. The native of La Vista, Neb., added to his already impressive resume this fall when he won the Siouxland Invitational (Sept. 13-14) with a school record total for a 36-hole event (69-69–138). Zikas topped the men’s program with a 73.63 scoring average over eight fall rounds. Meanwhile, the women got a big boost this fall from freshman Kendra Placke, a Seward High School product. She paced the team with a scoring average of 79.63 during the fall. In her very first collegiate tournament, Placke placed fourth.

Napier finishes as NAIA tackles leader
Beast. Animal. Monster. Stud. All appropriate words to describe sophomore linebacker Lane Napier’s play on the football field. The native of David City, Neb., finished the 2018 campaign with 142 tackles to lead all NAIA players. He also paced the Bulldogs with 12.5 tackles for loss and four sacks while putting together perhaps the most statistically dominant individual season ever by a Concordia football player. Napier has accomplished something not particularly common – place himself on the first team all-conference list in each of his first two collegiate seasons. Napier posted exceptional totals of 22 tackles at Morningside and 21 stops at Jamestown this past season. In 20 career games, Napier has already racked up 239 tackles. He will likely garner consideration for All-America honors this postseason.

Women’s soccer reaches GPAC final for fifth year in a row
It’s now an annual expectation for the Concordia women’s soccer program to reach the GPAC tournament final. The Bulldogs have gotten to that point five years in a row while under the guidance of head coach Greg Henson. After a 3-2 loss to Briar Cliff in the regular-season finale, Concordia regrouped and earned 1-0 conference quarterfinal wins over both Morningside and 17th-ranked Midland on the way to another title game appearance. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs were unable to close the deal like the 2014 and 2016 GPAC tournament championship teams did. However, Concordia went 13-3-5 overall as part of another very respectable season. Along the way, Maria Deeter knocked in 14 goals and Lauren Martin broke the program’s single-season record with 16 assists.

Weides collects 100th coaching win
The 11th season of Jason Weides’ head coaching tenure is now in the books. This particular season saw Weides move past the 100-win mark. He reached the century mark on Sept. 12 when the Bulldogs defeated McPherson College (Kan.), 3-2, in overtime. Over more than a decade, Weides has built the men’s soccer program into one that expects to be near the top of the GPAC standings on an annual basis. The program broke through in 2015 by winning a GPAC tournament title and then in 2017 set a new school single-season standard with 16 victories. Since the beginning of the 2011 season, Weides has guided the Bulldogs to an overall record of 90-50-17 with at least 10 wins each season.

Grove earns first career bid to cross country nationals
After sitting out the 2017 cross country season due to injury, senior Taylor Grove bounced back in a big way. She qualified for the cross country national championships for the first time in her career thanks to a fourth-place GPAC championships finish. The native of Billings, Mont., paced the women’s cross country team at every single meet in 2018. Grove went on to finish 125th out of 340 runners at the national championships. She is also a two-time outdoor track and field national qualifier in the marathon and is the reigning GPAC 10,000 meter champion.

Volleyball opens up 12-0 under Boldts
The first 12 matches of the 2018 volleyball season could not have been scripted much better for first-year head coach Ben Boldt, who is assisted by his wife Angie. The Bulldogs started the season 12-0, a stretch that included Concordia winning its first 25 sets of the campaign. Also as part of that run, the Bulldogs defeated McPherson College (Kan.), a squad that went on to win the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference. Though Concordia hit a bit of a wall during conference play, it ended the regular season positively with a push that put it in the GPAC tournament as the No. 8 seed. In many ways, the 2018 season was about setting the program up for future success.

SEASON SUMMARIES

Men’s and Women’s Cross Country
2018 men’s GPAC finish: 4th
2018 women’s GPAC finish: 4th
Top performers: 
--Taylor Grove: paced the Bulldogs by finishing fourth at the GPAC championships (18:53.54), allowing her to earn a bid to the national championships (placed 125th out of 340); recorded four top-10 finishes in 2018.
--Wyatt Lehr: placed 12th at the GPAC championships (26:38.73) and was the lone Concordia representative on the men’s all-conference list; finished in the team’s top two at all six meets this season.
Season highlights:  While Concordia came up shy of qualifying either team for the national championships, the men’s and women’s squads both made progress while turning in fourth place GPAC finishes. The women even broke into the “receiving votes” category of the national poll at one point. Senior Taylor Grove was the program’s standout all season. She placed as the team’s No. 1 runner in each of the six meets that occurred in 2018. The highlight for her was a fourth-place GPAC finish that sewed up a bid to the national championships. She was joined in all-conference territory by Abi DeLoach and Rebekah Hinrichs on the women’s side. For the men, freshman Wyatt Lehr and senior Josiah McAllister often jockeyed for the title of frontrunner. Those two helped the Bulldogs to a team title at the Bronco Stampede hosted by Hastings on Sept. 15.
GPAC all-conference: Abi DeLoach (14th); Taylor Grove (4th); Rebekah Hinrichs (13th); Wyatt Lehr (12th)
Coach Beisel: I’m very happy that we have shown progress over the last two years. We had some people run amazing races (at the GPAC championships). Wyatt had a 20 second PR and made all-conference as a freshman, which is a really big deal. Overall it was a successful meet for our guys. They were grouped more closely together, which is something we were working on. On the girls’ side, we’ve been ranked fourth in the GPAC all season. We still have some work to do to bring our fifth, sixth and seventh up with our top four and that’s going to have to happen next year. The girls really ran well to get three in the top 15 and four in the top 20. Getting three girls on the podium was really exciting. We’re all happy with the progress we’ve made, but I know I’m still hungry for more. I’m proud of our kids, but I still want that top three, top two – that first place. It’s still going to take work to get there both on the recruiting front and through development of the runners that we have.

Football
2018 record: 3-7 overall; 2-7 GPAC (T-8th)
Top performers:
--Ryan Durdon: 1,459 all-purpose yards (821 rushing, 371 kick returns, 247 receiving), 9 touchdowns; named GPAC Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 250 yards and two touchdowns in the season opening win over Buena Vista.
--Lane Napier: led the NAIA during the regular season with a program GPAC era record of 142 tackles (2000-present); also topped team with 12.5 tackles for loss and four sacks; named GPAC Defensive Player of the Week after recording 21 tackles in the win at Jamestown.
Season highlights: Led by a hard-nosed linebacker crew, the Bulldogs found a way to gut out victories over Buena Vista and Jamestown while opening up the season at 2-0. There were plenty of tough lessons the rest of the way for a youthful team that also endured several injuries at key positions. It was a struggle offensively, but Concordia did manage to put up three touchdowns in the fourth quarter of a 42-28 loss to sixth-ranked Northwestern. In that game, quarterback Andrew Perea broke a program single-game record with 455 passing yards. The highlight of 2018 really was the work produced by Napier and a linebacker group that included two additional all-conference honorees in Derek Tachovsky and Zac Walter. In a display of his team first attitude, senior Kordell Glause made the switch from linebacker to safety for the final seven games of the season. Glause and the defense gave the Bulldogs a shot at ending the season with a win at Doane, but ended up being another near miss (21-16 loss). The hope is that the valuable experience gained in 2018 will translate to better success on the field in 2019.
GPAC all-conference:
Lane Napier (first team)
Ryan Durdon (second team)
Kordell Glause (second team)
Vince Beasley (honorable mention)
Grady Koch (honorable mention)
Derek Tachovsky (honorable mention)
Zac Walter (honorable mention)
Coach Daberkow: God’s got lessons for us in this season, and they are really tough ones. We’ll learn from this. We’ll get better. We’re excited to get in the weight room and we’ll get after it. We’ve never gone this aggressively as far as our offseason plan of attack. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we have very aggressive goals in the weight room. We knew for a while we weren’t going to be in the playoffs so we went about trying to make sure we’re not on the outside looking in next season. We need to get bigger, faster and stronger. I thought (the game at Doane) was a fitting end. We were really close, just not quite there this season. It’s a hard pill to swallow when you’re close but you just can’t quite get there. The message is you get there by what you do starting right now.

Men’s and Women’s Golf
Men’s GPAC standing: 6th (309-300–609)
Women’s GPAC standing: 6th (334-338–672)
Top performers:
--Nolan Zikas: scoring average of 73.63 over 5 events (8 rounds); won the Siouxland Invitational; placed 2nd at the Briar Cliff Invitational; currently 20th on the GPAC leaderboard.
--Kendra Placke: scoring average of 79.63 over 5 events (8 rounds); recorded tournament place finishes of fourth, third, eighth and second, respectively; currently fourth on the GPAC leaderboard.
Fall highlights: The women’s program has made a nice leap forward thanks in large part to the addition of freshman Kendra Placke, a Seward High School product. She’s placed in the top 10 in each of the first five events of her collegiate career. With her help, the Bulldogs improved their conference cumulative score by 87 strokes as compared to where they sat this time one year ago. The program’s top player in 2017-18, junior Murphy Sears shot her season best of 83 at the Midland Invite (fourth place). The men turned in their best performance of the fall at the Siouxland Invitational (Sept. 13-14) that saw them shoot 302-293–595 and place fourth out of 16 teams. Senior Nolan Zikas won the tournament with his score of 69-69–138, which broke the program record for lowest 36-hole score at a single event. On the GPAC leaderboard, junior Tylar Samek has paced the team. He’s currently tied for sixth (74-70–144).
Coach Muller:
MEN
Senior Nolan Zikas continued his dominate play this fall. He picked up his third career win at the Siouxland Invite, shooting a pair of 69’s. The 36-hole 138 was also a school record. Junior Tylar Samek had a great fall as well. His fall scoring average improved from 79.44 last year to 75.50 this fall. He played great at the GPAC Championship and currently sits in sixth place and six shots out of the lead. On the team side, we are in sixth place in the GPAC and 16 shots out of fourth place. We need to develop more consistency at the back end of our lineup in order to make a move in the standings.
WOMEN
The fall season was a great step forward for the program. Last year we finished 10th in the GPAC and had a team stroke average of 376. This fall we improved our team average to 355 and are currently sixth in the GPAC. We ended the fall season with our two lowest rounds of the fall (334 and 338). Freshman Kendra Placke proved she is one of the top players in the conference, finishing in the top 10 in every tournament. Murphy Sears finished the fall with her lowest score of the season and is in the top 10 of the GPAC. Looking ahead to the spring, the GPAC is extremely close from second to number seven. We need to continue to work hard in the weight room this winter and look to move up in the standings.

Shooting Sports
Top fall finish: 3rd out of 15 at the ACUI Midwest Championships
Things to know: It’s a new era for shooting sports (formerly referred to as trap and skeet) at Concordia. The program officially moved under the umbrella of the athletic department this past summer under the direction of its first full-time head coach, Scott Moniot. The program was started four years earlier by Dr. Joel Helmer. With the help of Moniot, the numbers have exploded for the 2018-19 with more than 30 competitors (both men and women) holding down spots on the roster. Team members practice at Oak Creek Sporting Club in Brainard, Neb., also the site of the Bulldog Sporting Classic that hosted 160 shooters on Oct. 6-7. Concordia completed a solid run in the fall by finishing third high over all out of 15 colleges at the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) Upper Midwest Conference Championships on Nov. 3-4. Standout senior Erin Lokke took first high over all among 33 women’s competitors at the event. In addition, The Bulldogs broke team school records for both American skeet (482) and American trap (475). While Lokke provides veteran leadership, the roster is exceptionally youthful and includes a host of strong freshmen such as Nicole Breese, Wyatt Hambly, Sarah Schwacher and Colten Uitermarkt, among others. Moniot believes his program will eventually compete with national powers like Fort Hays State University (Kan.) and Midland.
Coach Moniot: This was the indication that I thought would eventually come (in regards to the success seen at the final shoot of the fall). I didn’t know exactly when it would happen. When you bring in as many freshmen and transfers as we did, it changes the dynamics for everybody. There was quite a transition period for everybody. It took a little while for us to find our groove. About three weeks ago I challenged them to give me a reason to take them to the national championships. In that instance they all came ready with their ‘A’ game. We brought the kind of scores that shows where the future of the program is going. Obviously trying to knock off Fort Hays State and Midland is going to be a ways out. Our freshmen as a group shot unbelievable, but there’s a healthy balance. Everyone is pushing each other. At the end of the day, it’s the number that you shoot and it doesn’t matter if you’re male, female, a freshman or a senior.

Men’s Soccer
2018 record: 10-5-4 overall; 6-2-3 GPAC (T-4th)
Top performers:
Angel Alvarez: started all 19 games at center back
Jack Bennett: 1.56 gaa, .723 save%, 4-4-2 record, 11 games (11 starts)
Carlos Ferrer: 6 goals, 9 assists, 21 points, 18 games (16 starts)
Roger de la Villa: 8 goals (2 game winners), 2 assists, 18 points, 19 games (18 starts)
Season highlights: While the Bulldogs came up short of reaching the GPAC tournament championship game for the fourth year in a row, they managed to be a top four team in the conference after saying goodbye to stellar 2017-18 senior class. Concordia reached the conference semifinals after clipping rival Midland in a penalty kick shootout that was clinched with a save by goalkeeper Jack Bennett. The season ultimately concluded with a 3-0 loss at GPAC regular-season and tournament champion Hastings in the semis. Based on the rankings, the top win for the Bulldogs was their 3-2 road triumph over Kansas Wesleyan University (ranked 21st in the final NAIA regular-season coaches’ poll) on Sept. 8. In the very next outing, Jason Weides earned the 100th victory of his head coaching career. It was a season of close calls. Concordia went to overtime seven times but never suffered a loss in any of those games. Two of the overtime affairs were ended by golden goals from Roger de la Villa.
GPAC all-conference:
Angel Alvarez (second team)
Jack Bennett (second team)
Carlos Ferrer (second team)
Roger de la Villa (second team)
Matthew Ho (honorable mention)
Coach Weides: We did not live up to all the expectations we set for ourselves. Yeah we lost some key players from last year’s team, but we felt like we were capable of doing as much, if not more. We had some stumbles here and there, but we were really in every game. This team competed with the top 25 all season. At this cycle in the program, we go into every year wanting more. I’m really proud of the six seniors. They have been big parts of our program for the last four years and I’m thankful for having the opportunity to coach them.

Women’s Soccer
2018 record: 13-3-5 overall; 8-1-3 GPAC (3rd); GPAC tournament runner up
Top performers:
--Lindsey Carley: 6 shutouts, 0.96 gaa, .789 save%, 12-3-5 record, 20 games (20 starts)
--Tori Cera: 5 goals (1 game winner), 3 assists, 13 points, 21 games (21 starts)
--Maria Deeter: 14 goals (4 game winners), 6 assists, 34 points, 18 games (17 starts)
--Lauren Martin: 10 goals (2 game winners), 16 assists, 36 points, 20 games (20 starts)
Season highlights: The Bulldogs came up one win in the GPAC tournament championship game shy of another storybook postseason run. However, it was another solid season for head coach Greg Henson’s program, which still had a chance at a conference regular-season title up until the regular-season finale. Concordia was also a regular in the “receiving votes” category of the national poll. The Bulldogs were hurt by the late-season knee injury suffered by senior captain Maria Deeter, who sat out the final two games of the regular season and the first two in the conference tournament. One of the program’s all-time greats, Deeter made a courageous return to the lineup for the GPAC championship, which ended in a 1-0 double overtime loss at Hastings. There were times when Deeter willed the team to victory, like when she knocked in the golden goal at Morningside on Sept. 26. She had help from the likes of Lauren Martin, whose 16 assists led the GPAC by a wide margin. Sophomore Tori Cera helped Concordia reach the GPAC tournament final for the fifth year in a row with perhaps the team’s most impressive goal of the season that came in the quarterfinal victory over Morningside.
GPAC all-conference:
Tori Cera (first team)
Maria Deeter (first team)
Lindsey Carley (second team)
Ashley Martin (second team)
Lauren Martin (second team)
Brynn Suddeth (second team)
Cheyenne Smith (honorable mention)
Michaela Twito (honorable mention)
Coach Henson: This is a championship quality program even though we didn’t come away with a shiny trophy this year. We faced different levels and different types of adversity throughout the season and our team came out on the other side of it in great shape. A lot of that had to do with our senior leaders. We had a great senior class that we’re going to dearly miss. They brought a lot to this program and really set a new level and a new bar for what’s considered a good season at Concordia. It’s going to take some time to sit back and take it all in but I think when we do that and our players do that, they’ll realize what a great season this was and what great careers they have had. For the younger players it’s a matter of learning from these types of situations and figuring out how to win games (like the GPAC championship). There were a lot of bright spots and a lot to build on in the coming years.

Volleyball
2018 record: 15-12 overall; 5-11 GPAC (T-7th)
Top performers:
--Jenna Habegger: 277 kills (3.04/set), .218 hitting percentage, 50 digs (91 sets)
--Emmie Noyd: 235 kills (2.67/set), .292 hitting percentage, 92 blocks (88 sets)
Season highlights:  Under the direction of first-year head coach Ben Boldt, the Bulldogs began the season at 12-0 before diving into the meat of the schedule. The unbeaten run saw Concordia win its first 25 sets of the season and then beat eventual Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference champion McPherson College. There were some rough patches, like the stretch during which the Bulldogs won only once in 11 outings. They bounced back towards the end of the regular season by knocking off Morningside and Doane while falling just short of an upset at No. 12 Midland. The late season push allowed Concordia to sneak into the GPAC tournament as the No. 8 seed. The run ended with a loss at No. 5 Dordt in the conference quarterfinals. As a senior, Jenna Habegger stepped up her game and led the team in kills. In the middle, junior Emmie Noyd earned second team all-conference honors for the second year in a row.
GPAC all-conference:
Emmie Noyd (second team)
Tara Callahan (honorable mention)
Jenna Habegger (honorable mention)
Coach Boldt: At the beginning of the year it was just less pressure and having fun. We were winning and that was great. Once we started getting into conference play, it was like, ‘Okay, the pressure is on now.’ We had to adjust and really be able to execute when it came down to it. When conference play started and we weren’t as successful on the court, there was a lot of gut-check type of stuff. We had to work through it. We just started playing some good ball in the last couple weeks and I think once the season ended, our team was hungry to get back after it. One of the themes we’re talking about with them is that good teams are coach-led, great teams are player-led. We want to create a player-led culture where they just can’t get enough reps and can’t get enough volleyball. The meat and potatoes of what that entails is getting reps when the coaches aren’t around. There is only so much time that we have with them during the day. They have to also do it on their own and hold each other accountable. That’s a big part of our message to them. Player-led cultures equal great teams.