Bulldogs ring in 2017 by holding off Sterling

By Jacob Knabel on Aug. 26, 2017 in Men's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – The shot total told a story of domination for Concordia men’s soccer, but head coach Jason Weides’ squad had to sweat out a white knuckler in a tussle with visiting Sterling College. The retooled Warriors squad, under the direction of a new head coach, hung tight before the Bulldogs held their foe off, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon.

Weides debuted a squad heavy on both seniors and freshmen. Two freshmen – Garrett Perry and Kevin Sanchez – were part of the starting lineup. In addition, junior Jack Bennett took over the starting goalkeeper role.

“Overall it was a good start,” Weides said. “To pick up a victory, you can’t complain too much, but I think it’s pretty evident that is the start. We’re not polished at this point. We’re not at championship level, but we’ve got to start somewhere. I think there were a lot of good lessons in this game for us. Sterling gave us a really good test and pushed us really well.”

Three different goal scorers helped propel Concordia to victory. The Bulldogs felt like they should have put away more goals, but the work of Lewis Rathbone (45’), Micah Lehenbauer (53’) and Toby Down (61’) proved to be enough. It was a balanced scoring effort that has been typical of the past two Concordia squads that have reached the GPAC tournament championship game.

Down’s goal off a free kick with less than 30 minutes remaining appeared to have sunk Sterling, which had gained a 1-0 advantage courtesy of Adriano Marques’ goal in the 34th minute. Concordia seemed to have finally wore down a team it ended up outshooting, 31-4 (13-2 in shots on goal). But the Warriors kept on coming. Youssef Mourchid made a nifty move in the box and got Sterling back within a goal in the 64th minute.

The Bulldogs responded appropriately and warded off the Warriors.

“We just fought hard for each other,” Rathbone said. “At halftime we kind of changed it. We pressed differently. We were trying to force them wide. They didn’t really have anything after that.”

Rathbone sees this team as another one capable of making noise and taking the program up another notch.

“The new guys came in with a good attitude and willing to learn,” Rathbone said. “That’s what we expect from them. We try to raise a good standard here. We have high expectations and I think they knew that. We’ve raised the bar every single year since I’ve been here.”

Rathbone was one of five seniors in the starting 11. The others were Luke Batters, Florian Caraballo, Down and Lehenbauer. The four-year seniors have helped the program go a combined 33-20-9 since the start of the 2014 season.

The Bulldogs will renew their rivalry with York College on Tuesday (Aug. 29). The Panthers will visit Bulldog Stadium for an 8 p.m. kickoff. In last year’s meeting, Concordia defeated York by a score of 4-0.