2022 GPAC men's soccer championship preview: Concordia at Hastings

By Jacob Knabel on Nov. 9, 2022 in Men's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University Men’s Soccer program will make its fourth all-time appearance in a GPAC tournament championship game when action gets started on Friday night from Hastings, Neb. No matter the result, the Bulldogs (15-2-2) will be bound for the national tournament after having locked up the GPAC’s second automatic bid. Head Coach Jason Weides has led Concordia back to the conference final via postseason wins over Briar Cliff, 2-0, and Dordt, 1-0. Meanwhile, conference regular season champion Hastings has defeated Mount Marty, 1-0 (overtime), and Midland, 2-0, during the GPAC tournament.

GPAC Championship

Friday, Nov. 11 at Hastings (15-1-1, 10-0-1 GPAC), 7 p.m.
--Live Webcast/Stats | Location: Lloyd Wilson Field (Hastings, Neb.)

By the numbers

·        While hosting the GPAC semifinal round for the first time in program history, the Bulldogs enjoyed the bulk of the possession and rode a 34th minute goal from Victor Meneses to victory. Concordia finished the day with a 20-9 advantage in the shot department and had other opportunities to find a second goal. Defensively, the Bulldogs shored up their play from the regular season meeting with Dordt (a 4-3 loss) and earned the shutout while holding down one of the GPAC’s top strikers in Blake Hansen. Concordia keeper Gabriel Mendoza (named GPAC Defensive Player of the Week) collected three saves and pushed his season record to 7-0-1.

·        Prior to this season, previous home GPAC tournament games for Concordia under Weides occurred in 2016, 2017 and 2018. In each instance, the Bulldogs advanced to the conference semifinals. In quarterfinal home matchups, Concordia defeated Northwestern, 2-1, in 2016, edged Briar Cliff, 1-0, in 2017 and then advanced on penalty kicks past Midland in 2018 (following a 1-1 draw). That ’18 season was the most recent year that the Bulldogs had reached the GPAC semifinals. During the 2015 through 2017 campaigns, Weides took Concordia to three straight GPAC championship games (all at Hastings). The Bulldogs celebrated a 1-0 upset of the 19th-ranked Broncos in the ’15 title game and qualified for the national tournament.

·        One of the top seasons in program history continues for the Bulldogs, who are now 15-2-2 overall. The 15 wins represent the second most in a single season in school history behind only the 16 victories notched by the 2017 team that went 16-3-1 overall. The GPAC quarterfinal win also pushed the team’s active unbeaten streak to 11 (9-0-2). Concordia has not lost since enduring a 4-3 defeat at Dordt on Sept. 21. In addition, the Bulldogs remained undefeated at home (9-0-1). The one tie came against GPAC regular season champion Hastings. In those 10 home games, Concordia has outscored its opponents, 24-4, and has notched six shutouts.

·        Both teams playing in Friday’s championship game have already secured bids to the national tournament. The Broncos locked up a spot in the field thanks to winning the conference regular season title. According to league bylaws, the second auto bid then goes to the GPAC tournament champion – or the team that finishes second in the regular season if the same team wins both the regular season and postseason titles. As the recipient of that second bid, the Bulldogs will make the program’s second all-time national tournament appearance (and first since 2015). The first and second rounds of the national tournament will take place at campus sites that were announced on Nov. 3. Those sites can be viewed HERE. Each of the 10 sites will feature four teams. Site assignments will be announced after the conference tournaments are complete.

·        The win on Tuesday marked the 150th in the career of Weides, who is in his 15th year as head coach of his alma mater. Weides was hired as head coach prior to the 2008 season and has built Concordia into one of the most consistent programs in the country. The Bulldogs have won at least 10 games in 11 of the past 12 seasons. This year is shaping up to be as good as any season Weides has enjoyed at the helm. Another measure of that is Concordia’s prevalence on the national radar. The Bulldogs have received votes in the NAIA coaches’ poll for a sixth straight week. In the NAIA Men’s Soccer Modified Ratings Percentage Index released on Oct. 19, Concordia appeared at No. 32. Another MRPI will be released on Friday and will be used a guide to help the selection committee seed the national tournament.

·        Through 19 games this season, the Bulldogs have outscored their opponents by a combined total of 49-16 and have outshot them, 269-143. Concordia’s top goal scorer is Dominic Abdel-Ahad, who has notched 12 goals and has earned two GPAC Offensive Player of the Week awards this season. In the midfield, Carlos Orquiz has had an exceptionally productive offensive season with five goals and a GPAC high 11 assists. Orquiz has broken program records for assists in a season and career assists (20). Another top offensive threat has been Ryan Wokutch, who has tallied six goals and three assists. A standout at center back, Max Bisinger has produced four goals and an assist. Mendoza has been getting the nod recently at keeper and has responded nicely. He owns a goals against average of 0.94.

The opponent

Hastings returned to the top of the GPAC regular season standings in 2022 after it had relinquished that spot during the 2019 through 2021 seasons. Now the Broncos are hoping for a sweep of GPAC titles. Hastings remained at No. 23 in the NAIA coaches’ poll released on Wednesday. The Broncos have been dominant in their 17 outings this season, outscoring opponents, 56-9. The top goal scorer is David Panter, who has put away 14 goals while tallying five assists. In the regular season meeting with Concordia, goalkeeper Brendan Dally made eight saves and helped the Broncos preserve a 1-1 draw. The Bulldogs held a significant lead in the shot count, 18-9. In his first season as the program’s head coach in 2021, Cole Poppen led Hastings to a GPAC tournament title and nationals appearance.

GPAC tournament pairings

Quarterfinals – Wednesday, Nov. 2
(1) Hastings def. (8) Mount Marty, 1-0 (2 OT)
(5) Midland def. (4) Northwestern, 1-0
(3) Dordt def. (6) Morningside, 3-1
(2) Concordia def. (7) Briar Cliff, 2-0

Semifinals – Tuesday, Nov. 8
(1) Hastings def. (5) Midland, 2-0
(2) Concordia def. (3) Dordt, 1-0

Championship – Friday, Nov. 11
(2) Concordia at (1) Hastings, 7 p.m.