SEWARD, Neb. – After beginning the 2012 season 6-1, a first-round exit in the GPAC tournament did not sit well with head coach Jason Weides’ Bulldog men’s soccer squad. Led by leading returner goal scorer Nathan Douglas, Concordia put together a productive spring that it hopes will lay the groundwork for a stronger finish to the 2013 campaign.
The Bulldogs compiled a record of 3-1-2 over their six-game spring slate, which included contests against conference rivals Doane, Midland and Morningside. The final games of the spring were played this past Sunday.
“Overall I think it was a really positive, productive spring for us,” Weides said. “We played some good competition not only against conference opponents, but we also played teams like Grand View who we played in the fall.”
According to Weides, Douglas sets the example for the entire side with his intense dedication in the offseason. The senior-to-be from Winnipeg, Canada, appeared to take yet another step forward in the spring and is primed to overtake departing senior Aaron Skipworth’s Concordia career goals record of 31.
“He’s a driven guy who works just as hard if not harder than anyone on our team, not only in training but in the offseason,” Weides said of Douglas. “Whether it’s banging the ball against the wall or just getting extra touches, he’s in there working and being a model for other guys.
“He’s eager to take on more and step up both in terms of his play and leadership.”
Weides has seen plenty of positives this spring to realize his team is more than just Douglas. The offensive attack will return 87.9 percent of its goal-scoring production from 2012 as nine of the 12 Bulldogs who tallied at least one goal last season are back in the fold for 2013.
“The nice thing for us is I think we’ve got goals to come from other spots besides just Douglas next year,” Weides said. “We’ve got some returners who can score some goals – some who scored goals this past fall for us and some that are just on the verge of having breakout seasons for us and really being more productive in terms of being on the score line.”
Weides noted several players who turned in highlight reel goals during the spring including Douglas along with sophomores-to-be Dean Stevens and Marcelino Varona and junior-to-be Chris DeFeyter.
Stevens made up part of a large freshman class that logged heavy playing time in 2012. Five freshmen combined to make 96 starts last year. That group was headed by second team all-conference defender Sean Doran. With a full season in the books, the class of experienced youngsters looks even more comfortable.
“A lot of people didn’t know quite what to expect in their first year of college,” Weides said. “Now I think they understand it. They understand not only what it takes to be an athlete here but what it’s going to take for us to get to that next level and compete for a conference championship. I think they’re hungry. They’re excited. They’ve worked hard.
“We already view them as upperclassmen.”
The seasoned group of Bulldogs will be joined this fall by a recruiting class that will include additional international flavor. Assistant coach Benny Hanaphy, a Kilkenny, Ireland, native, proved instrumental in helping the Bulldogs land Doran, a product of Dublin, and has used his connections to aid in adding more scoring talent and help on the back line.
Check out the 2013 Concordia men’s soccer schedule HERE. The Bulldogs are set to open up the season on Aug. 30 when Benedictine College (Kan.) visits Seward.