Bulldogs fall at Hastings in GPAC semifinals

By Jacob Knabel on Nov. 6, 2018 in Men's Soccer

HASTINGS, Neb. – For more than 43 minutes of action, the Concordia University men’s soccer team survived a series of corner kicks and a few close calls in what had been a scoreless game. It would have been a win to get to the locker room with a stalemate, but Daniel Whitehall found the back of the net in the 44th minute. That score spurred fifth-ranked Hastings to a 3-0 victory in the GPAC tournament semifinals at Lloyd Wilson Field on Tuesday night (Nov. 6).

Eleventh-year head coach Jason Weides’ program had hoped to advance to the GPAC championship game for would have been the fourth year in a row. Instead, the Bulldogs now enter the offseason with a final overall record of 10-5-4.

“We played a pretty good first half but unfortunately we conceded the goal right before half,” Weides said. “It was tough to have that happen at that moment. We certainly surrendered too many corners and Hastings is a really good team in those situations. On our attacking end, we didn’t create enough shots. We knew we had to do a better job of testing their keeper. We were just kind of stuck box-to-box and weren’t quite as dangerous as we have been previously.

“It’s disappointing because we felt like we were capable of coming here and doing the job and having a chance to play for a championship. We came up short against a very good team.”

The latest tussle with the rival Broncos (16-2) certainly got started better than the meeting that took place inside Bulldog Stadium on Oct. 3. In that instance, Hastings put two goals away in the first four minutes and cruised to a 2-0 win. On Tuesday, the Broncos managed only one shot through the opening 14 minutes before the flurry of corner kicks ensued.

In his final game as a Bulldog, senior goalkeeper Jack Bennett gave a good account of himself. He made six saves and also helped thwart chances on many of the 15 corner kicks by Hastings. Bennett was one of three players eventually sent off early. The game ended with Concordia trying to play nine versus 10.

Hastings put the game away by getting a 53rd minute goal from Jonathan Lopez and an 81st minute goal from Fernando Lisboa. On the flip side, all three of the Bulldog shots on goal were denied by Bronco keeper Kieran Harrison. One of theme was particularly noteworthy. Just prior to the 60-minute mark, Harrison made a leaping snare of a header that was put on frame by David Carrasco.

In the end, Concordia had its season ended by Hastings for the fourth time in five years. The Bulldogs were unable to duplicate the 1-0 upset they celebrated at Lloyd Wilson Field on the night of the 2015 GPAC tournament championship game.

At this point in time, some of the near misses are what hurt. Despite some key departures via graduation from the 2017 squad, Weides felt like his team had the ingredients to finish higher than the No. 4 seed that it settled in as at the 2018 GPAC tournament. This was a season in which Concordia seemed to make it a close game no matter the level of its competition. It even owns a road win over a Kansas Wesleyan University squad now ranked 21st nationally.

“We did not live up to all the expectations we set for ourselves,” Weides said. “Yeah we lost some key players from last year’s team, but we felt like we were capable of doing as much, if not more. We had some stumbles here and there, but we were really in every game. This team competed with the top 25 all season. At this cycle in the program, we go into every year wanting more.”

Seniors in Bennett, Angel Alvarez, Jack Arra, Derek Eitzmann, Aries Fung saw action while donning the Bulldog kit for the final time on Tuesday. Said Weides, “I’m really proud of the six seniors. They have been big parts of our program for the last four years and I’m thankful for having the opportunity to coach them.”