SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s soccer team already knows it will be playing in the GPAC tournament that begins with the quarterfinals on Thursday, Nov. 1. With two games remaining in the regular season, the Bulldogs still have a mathematical shot to host in that opening round, but they need to ramp things up this week. Concordia (8-4-3, 4-2-3 GPAC) is getting set to play two opponents currently above it in the GPAC standings.
Wednesday, Oct. 24 at Midland (9-7, 6-3), 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 27 vs. Briar Cliff (8-5-2, 5-2-1), 3:30 p.m.
Eleventh-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad will have the luxury of remaining in Nebraska this week after venturing to Yankton, S.D., for a 3-1 win over Mount Marty on Oct. 16 and then to Jamestown, N.D., for a 1-1 double overtime draw at Jamestown on Oct. 20. The Bulldogs came within an eyelash of making it a 2-0 week. A 1-0 lead at Jamestown fell by the wayside with 16 seconds left in regulation when the Jimmies found the back of the net off a throw in.
A win at Jamestown would have gotten Concordia closer to extending an active run of seven-straight seasons with at least 10 overall victories. Since the beginning of the 2011 season when that streak began, the Bulldogs have put together a combined overall mark of 88-49-16. The apex of that run to this point was the GPAC championship game upset of Hastings in 2015. The run of success has pushed Weides to 105 career head coaching wins. Concordia has reached the conference title game three seasons in a row.
It will be senior day on Saturday for the program. The most prominent seniors include starters Angel Alvarez, Jack Bennett, Derek Eitzmann and Aries Fung. Together, those four have combined to play in 206 collegiate games: Fung (66), Alvarez (65), Eitzmann (42) and Bennett (33). They have helped the program to a combined record of 46-21-9 since the start of the 2015 campaign. Bennett (second team) and Alvarez (honorable mention) earned All-GPAC accolades last season. Among the seniors, Jack Arra is the leading goal scorer with five goals.
Midland has perennially been a top three or four team in the league standings. The Warriors got out to a 6-1 league record before dropping games last week at No. 4 Hastings, 4-0, and versus Briar Cliff, 2-0. Behind Robert Wiseman (16 goals), Midland ranks 21st nationally in goals scored per game (3.19). In last season’s meeting, the Bulldogs topped the Warriors, 2-1, in double overtime. Meanwhile, Briar Cliff is currently one point up on Concordia in the GPAC standings. The Chargers have outscored their opponents by a combined total of 34-16. Top goal scorer Prichard Sibanda (26 goals in 2017) has notched six goals this season.
Once this week is settled, the Bulldogs will try to make another postseason push. The GPAC quarterfinals on Nov. 1 will be followed by the semifinals on Nov. 6 and the championship game on Nov. 9. Concordia hosted a quarterfinal contest in both 2016 and 2017.