SEWARD, Neb. – The response of Concordia University Men’s Soccer in the second half will send it into the postseason on a high note. After a brief lapse after halftime, the Bulldogs turned on the jets with the help of three different goal scorers and defeated visiting Midland, 4-2, on Friday (April 2) afternoon. The contest (which officially counted as a nonconference result) marked the first Concordia home game since Nov. 14.
This was also the first victory of the spring portion of the season for Head Coach Jason Weides’ squad, which moved to 10-5-2 overall. The program has extended its string of consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins to 10.
“It’s nice to get to the 10-win mark and be able to ring our bell again,” Weides said. “We feel a little bit better about heading into playoffs. I think it’s great for the morale of the team … moving forward we can’t afford for some of the lapses we had. We didn’t have much energy and effort in those first 15 minutes of the second half. Midland punished us for that, but we showed some good resilience and fight as a team to get back into the game.”
The Warriors struggled to mark Yessine Bessaïes up top. The native of Bordeaux, France, has been a bit of a Swiss Army Knife in his ability to play all over the park. He got loose in the sixth minute for a goal and nearly had a second one not long after. He earned credit for the game winning goal when he found the back of the net in the 68th minute.
A consistent 25 mile-per-hour wind made it a challenge moving towards the south goal. However, the game’s first three goals were scored in that direction. Midland erased a 1-0 deficit with a goal apiece from Liam Brandso (54’) and Thomas Crawford (63’). After only rare offensive chances in the first half (one total shot), the Warriors (3-10-1) had made a serious threat in what was their final game of 2020-21.
The equalizer came four minutes after Crawford’s goal. Victor Meneses headed a corner from Bessaïes into the back of the net. Less than two minutes later, the Bulldogs were celebrating a goal from Isaiah Shaddick (assist to Ryan Wokutch) that provided a much more comfortable advantage down the stretch.
“We’ve had three games to prepare for the playoffs and we’ve kept improving,” Bessaïes said. “Unfortunately we lost the first two, but we’ve improved every game. Today was a good challenge and I’m sure we’re ready for the playoffs now … The main purpose for me is to help the team. I’ll play wherever Coach wants me. Of course I’m happy to score those two goals, but I’m happy with the win.”
Late in the game, Weides made liberal use of the bench. Callum Goldsmith spelled Federico Simonetti in goal for the final 12 minutes. While the team has looked slightly different this spring, Weides has continued to lean upon All-GPAC performers in Iker Casanova, Carlos Orquiz, Garrett Perry (assist on Friday) and Simonetti.
As the No. 5 seed in the GPAC, Concordia will be at No. 4 seed Northwestern (11-5) for the GPAC quarterfinals on Saturday, April 10. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT from Orange City, Iowa.
“It’s going to be a challenging game,” Weides said. “Northwestern had a great season. We caught them early on a bad day (4-0 Concordia win on Sept. 26). We have to have the mentality that it’s not a team we’ve beaten already, but a team we have to prove we can beat again.”