SEWARD, Neb. – For the sixth time in nine seasons, the Concordia University Men’s Soccer team has made its way to the GPAC tournament semifinals. As the No. 2 seed in the field, the Bulldogs advanced via a 2-0 conference quarterfinal win over seventh-seeded Briar Cliff this past Thursday. Head Coach Jason Weides’ squad (14-2-2) now gets set to host third-seeded Dordt at 5 p.m. CT on Tuesday. On the other side of the bracket, top-seeded Hastings will host fifth-seeded Midland.
Tuesday, Nov. 8 vs. Dordt (9-3-6, 6-1-4 GPAC), 5 p.m.
By the numbers
· When the Bulldogs took the field this past Thursday, it marked the fourth time since 2016 that the program has hosted a GPAC tournament game. Concordia took care of business against seventh-seeded Briar Cliff and reached the semifinals for the first time since 2018. A goal apiece was delivered by Daniel Campbell (41’) and Dominic Abdel-Ahad (58’) in the 2-0 victory. The Bulldogs held advantages of 14-8 in shots and 6-4 in corners. In goal, Gabriel Mendoza made five saves and picked up the shutout. Mendoza owns a record of 6-0-1 this season at keeper. Concordia had the advantage of playing 11 vs. 10 after a Charger player was sent off with a red card at the 25-minute mark. Co-champion of the GPAC regular season in 2021, Briar Cliff ended 2022 at 5-8-6 overall.
· 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 14-2-2 overall. The 14 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 10 (8-0-2). Concordia has not lost since enduring a 4-3 defeat at Dordt on Sept. 21. In addition, the Bulldogs remained undefeated at home (8-0-1). The one tie came against GPAC regular season champion Hastings. In those nine home games, Concordia has outscored its opponents, 23-4, and has notched five shutouts.
· Carlos Orquiz’s placement of the ball, on set pieces in particular, has been a significant factor in Concordia’s offensive success. Orquiz racked up four assists in the 9-0 win at Presentation on Oct. 22 and added one versus Doane in the regular season finale. Orquiz also assisted a goal in the GPAC quarterfinals, pushing his season total to 11. That number has eclipsed Marcelo Hernandez (10 assists in 2017) for the most assists in a single season in school history. In addition, Orquiz now owns the program career assist record with 19, surpassing the previous standard of 18 by Carlos Ferrer (2016-19). A fifth-year member of the program, Orquiz (Chihuahua, Mexico) has also totaled 16 goals in 87 career games at Concordia.
· Dominic Abdel-Ahad has pushed his team high season goal count to 12, representing the most in a season for a Bulldog since Micah Lehenbauer and Lewis Rathbone both scored 12 goals in 2017. The school record for goals in a season is 17 by Ken VanDerripe in 1982. During the GPAC era (2000-present), the most goals scored by a Concordia individual was 15 from Arturo Vega in 2007. The program’s all-time career goals leader remains Nathan Douglas, who put away 43 goals from 2010 through 2013. As a team this season, Concordia has outscored its opponents, 48-16, and has outshot them, 249-134.
· Ranked No. 32 in the NAIA Men’s Soccer Modified Ratings Percentage Index (MRPI) released on Oct. 19, the Bulldogs may have an argument for an at-large national tournament bid. Of course, Concordia would prefer to make it easy on itself and secure one of the league’s two automatic berths. In order to do so, the Bulldogs need to win the GPAC tournament or have Hastings win the conference tournament. The Broncos have locked up an automatic bid thanks to winning the GPAC regular season championship. If Hastings also wins the postseason title, the second auto bid would go to Concordia as the GPAC’s second place team in the regular season. The 2015 Bulldogs remain the only squad in program history to play at the national tournament.
Dordt has enjoyed a major bounce-back season after it went 3-13-2 overall (2-9 GPAC) in 2021 and failed to qualify for the GPAC tournament. Through 18 games in 2022, the Defenders have outscored their opponents by a combined total of 35-20. Top striker Blake Hansen has put away 13 goals, including two in Dordt’s win over Concordia during the regular season. The Defenders protected their home field last week with a 3-1 conference quarterfinal win over Morningside. It marked Dordt’s first postseason win since 2014 (fifth advancement to the conference semifinals in program history). Head Coach Ryan Gresse’s squad has lost to only one GPAC foe this season (2-1 to Hastings on Oct. 29).
GPAC tournament pairings
Quarterfinals – Wednesday, Nov. 2
(1) Hastings 1, (8) Mount Marty 0 (2 OT)
(5) Midland 1, (4) Northwestern 0
(3) Dordt 3, (6) Morningside 1
(2) Concordia 2, (7) Briar Cliff 0
Semifinals – Tuesday, Nov. 8
(5) Midland at (1) Hastings, 7 p.m.
(3) Dordt at (2) Concordia, 5 p.m.
Championship – Friday, Nov. 11
Highest remaining seed hosts, time TBA