2023 GPAC men's soccer quarterfinal preview: Concordia vs. Dordt

By Chase Benton on Oct. 30, 2023 in Men's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – The defending GPAC tournament champions collected their right to host a conference quarterfinal match for the second year in a row. The third-seeded unbeaten Concordia University Men’s Soccer team sets their sights on sixth-seeded Dordt for Wednesday’s bout beginning at 7 p.m. CT. The Bulldogs have won the tournament two times under head coach Jason Weides (2015, 2022) and will make their fifth GPAC tournament appearance under the 16 year front man. They ended their 2023 regular season undefeated with a record of 13-0-4 overall and 7-0-4 in the GPAC.

This Week

GPAC Quarterfinals: Wednesday, Nov. 1 vs. Dordt (8-6-4, 5-4-2 GPAC), 7 p.m.
--Live Webcast | Live Stats
--Admission: $10 for adults/senior citizens, $3 for K-12; only those with NAIA passes and GPAC student ID’s are admitted free of charge.

By the numbers

·       Concordia entered the 2022 GPAC tournament as the No. 2 seed after finishing second in the regular season with an 8-1-2 conference record. They hosted seventh-seeded Briar Cliff in the quarterfinals, defeating the Chargers (2-0), and moved to the semifinals versus third-seeded Dordt. The Bulldogs won over the Defenders (1-0) in a tight one at Bulldog Stadium. CUNE traveled to first-seeded Hastings and fell down 2-0 before roaring back to tie the No. 23 ranked Broncos. The visitors eventually bested Hastings in a penalty kick shootout (4-2) for the tournament title. Concordia has hosted four quarterfinals under coach Weides and gone 4-0 in those matches. The Bulldogs 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). The Bulldogs celebrated a 1-0 upset of the 19th-ranked Broncos in the 2015 title game for their first tournament championship in the GPAC era.

·       This 2023 side accomplished something no soccer team has since the beginning of the program in 1970 with their unbeaten 13-0-4 season. The teams that came the closest (two losses) were the 1971, ’72, and ’73 seasons. The maximum number of games played in those seasons was nine. The most recent team with the best winning percentage was the 2017 year, accomplishing a 16-3-1 record. The Bulldogs, just as impressively, have extended their home win streak to 20 (18-0-2) since 2021, meaning 13 players on the current roster have never seen defeat in Bulldog Stadium. The current team has won 13 games and only two seasons (2022, 2017) have eclipsed that mark.

·       While it is sometimes hard to quantify how good a single defensive player is, it is a little easier to quantify the defense as a unit. The back line and two stellar goalkeepers have allowed a total of 10 goals through their 17 games, garnering eight shutouts which has them tied for second in CUNE history. With only 10 goals conceded, that puts this season at a team low for the program in goals allowed, with the current record being held by the 2017 side (16). The team has only allowed one multi-score game in 2023 (Northwestern) and has a +33 goal differential as they finished the regular season last Wednesday (Oct. 25). The players who are responsible for the stellar numbers start with goalkeepers Gabriel Mendoza and Nolan Fuelberth. Both guardians of the net have landed in the top five of the GPAC in goals allowed (five apiece), landing their goals against average at 0.56 (Fuelberth) and 0.63 (Mendoza). Iker Casanova, Adrian Wambua, Matt Schultz, Braden Spath, and Michael Lindberg have all had individual moments that kept this undefeated season alive and will be the steady feet coach Weides will lean on going into the GPAC tournament. The defense will need to be high alert early, as all seven of their goals allowed in the first half were in the first nine minutes.

·       Carter Hinman has been the man of the hour in many games with 10 goals and two assists, including five game winning goals. After Hinman, a pack of goal scorers are at his back, making it hard to stop the team that has mounted 43 goals on 28 assists. The other scorers are Victor Meneses (five, three game winners), Ryan Wokutch (four), Dre Williams (four), and the late blooming Michael Owens (four). Izzy Shaddick leads the team in assists (six) and Jarrod Henson (four) is close behind him.

·      For the first time in program history, the men’s soccer program was nationally ranked (No.  25) in the NAIA coaches’ poll on Wednesday (Sept. 20). The Bulldogs continued to climb throughout weeks of play and have been ranked No. 20 for the past three polls announced by the NAIA. 

·       Ranked No. 21 in the NAIA Men’s Soccer Modified Ratings Percentage Index (MRPI) released on Oct. 18, the Bulldogs 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, Concordia would have to win the GPAC tournament outright, starting with No. 106 Dordt, as they finished third in the regular season because of the four ties in conference play. Briar Cliff has already locked up one automatic bid from the regular season conference championship.

The opponent

The Bulldogs and Defenders battled it out earlier this campaign on Sept. 20 at Bulldog Stadium, finishing with a 2-0 victory in favor of Concordia. Henson was launching crosses into the box and connected on two scores with Hinman (6th minute) and Meneses (32nd minute). The Dawgs finished with an 11-4 shot advantage (7-0 first half) and totaled nine corner kicks to their two. Dordt fell back to the No. 6 seed in the conference in 2023, after finishing No. 3 in 2022 with only one loss. Head coach Eric Bourdo’s squad finished the season with a dominating win (8-1) over new conference foe Waldorf on Saturday (Oct. 28). The Defenders are in second in goals scored (50) and have allowed 17 goals by their opponents. Blake Hansen and Marco Laenen both lead the team with eight goals apiece.

GPAC tournament pairings

Quarterfinals – Wednesday, Nov. 1

(8) Dakota Wesleyan at (1) Briar Cliff, 1 p.m.

(5) Hastings at (4) Morningside, 7 p.m.

(6) Dordt at (3) Concordia, 7 p.m.

(7) Midland at (2) Northwestern, 7 p.m.

Semifinals – Saturday, Nov. 4

1/8 winner vs. 4/5 winner, time TBA

2/7 winner vs. 3/6 winner, time TBA

Championship – Thursday, Nov. 9

Highest remaining seed hosts, time TBA