Bulldogs ride early goal to season-opening shutout victory

By on Aug. 30, 2014 in Men's Soccer

Bulldogs ride early goal to season-opening shutout victory

SEWARD, Neb. – Up against a team that won last year’s meeting by a 3-0 score, the Concordia University men’s soccer team tightened its grip defensively and opened up the 2014 season with a 1-0 win over visiting Bethany College (Kan.) on Friday night. A goal from transfer Julian Amaya and the fifth-career shutout from keeper Brendan Buchanan made it a successful night under the lights inside Bulldog Stadium.

Friday night’s contest marked a sharp contrast from last September when the Swedes won handily in Seward.

“Both teams were pretty similar (to last year),” Weides said. “They didn’t lose many players and we didn’t lose many either. I think one of the biggest differences was we were much better defensively as a whole unit. We pressed much better defensively and that was a big thing.”

The Bulldogs did so even with the absence of a key defender in sophomore Mark Campbell. With a team Weides says is as deep as he’s coached at Concordia, the Bulldogs didn’t miss a beat. They even started the game with three newcomers amongst a veteran crew.

Amaya, who appeared in 10 matches last season at Wayland Baptist University, scored the game’s lone goal when he tucked the ball inside the left post off a through ball from junior midfielder Gideon Soenksen. The goal was the first of the collegiate career for Amaya, who, along with the likes of Toby Down, Micah Lehenbauer and Sam Toufique, made their Bulldog debuts.

Soenksen says the team’s play on Friday was an improvement from anything seen in preseason camp.

“I think tonight, first half especially, we played really well,” Soenksen said. “We’ve gone through preseason and played all right. We stepped it up tonight. That early goal really helped us out and we just hung on to that lead.”

Moving on without all-time leading goal scorer Nathan Douglas, who graduated after 2013-14, the Bulldogs impressed their seventh-year head coach in the way they adapted. His squad did not have the chance to simply ease into the 2014 season with Bethany, 9-5-4 last season, visiting town.

“I think it was a good first test. Bethany’s a good team,” Weides said. “They tested us well but ultimately I think our guys did well. What I think we need to continue to do, rather than relying on one, we rely on many. I think we’ll get goals from all over the place now.”

Senior captain and 2013 second team all-conference choice Chris DeFeyter led Concordia with four shots, including a pair that was placed on frame. Amaya was also active with three total shots. The native of Bogota, Columbia, showed off some theatrics when given space on the attacking end.

Bethany managed nine shots to Concordia’s 16.

The Bulldogs turn around quickly to host William Penn University (Iowa) at 4 p.m. on Saturday prior to a stretch of five-straight games on the road. Concordia and William Penn last met in the season opener of 2012 when Weides’ squad came away with a 3-0 road win in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

Soenksen admits that playing back-to-back days will be challenging physically.

“I know I’m not where I need to be fitness-wise but some of the boys are in real good shape,” Soenksen said. “I don’t think we’re where we want to be yet. It will be a bit of a struggle, but we’ll get through it.”

Weides believes his team will compensate with its significant depth.

“This early in the season we’re not prepared for that. We’re still getting our legs underneath us,” Weides said. “It will be a real challenge (Saturday) – a little bit of a war of attrition. This is where we test our depth.”