WATCH: Daniel Campbell / Dominic Abdel-Ahad goals
SEWARD, Neb. – The postseason mission to secure a national tournament bid began on Thursday (Nov. 3) as the Concordia University Men’s Soccer team hosted a GPAC playoff game for the fourth time since 2016. A goal apiece from Daniel “Boom” Campbell and Dominic Abdel-Ahad helped lift the second-seeded Bulldogs to a 2-0 win over seventh-seeded Briar Cliff on a breezy evening inside Bulldog Stadium. Concordia is back in the conference semifinals for the first time since 2018.
Head Coach Jason Weides’ squad improved to 14-2-2 overall and pushed the unbeaten streak to 10 while eliminating a Charger side that shared the GPAC regular season title in 2021.
“Our guys have had a good mentality all season,” Weides said. “We kind of challenged them a little bit yesterday to make sure we’re approaching this game and this postseason well because it looked in training like we had already arrived at our destination. We told them our destination wasn’t to host a playoff game – it’s much beyond that. I think our guys did a really good job of taking that in and having a good mentality. I’m really proud of the team because Briar Cliff is a good team.”
The sixth advancement to at least the GPAC semifinals during Weides’ tenure is a result of solid all-around play in Thursday’s affair. Concordia owned an advantage of 14-8 in the shot count and held the majority of possession. Two weeks ago, it took the Bulldogs more than 80 minutes to find a goal in the 1-0 regular season victory over Briar Cliff. This time, Campbell put away a goal in the 41st minute and the lightning quick reaction in the box by Abdel-Ahad (12 goals this season) provided breathing room in the 58th minute. Campbell’s goal was set up by a perfect left-to-right cross from Victor Meneses.
In goal, Gabriel Mendoza made four of his five saves in the second half while preserving the advantage. The majority of his saves were routine, although his final one came when a free kick forced him to dive to his right. In one sequence in the first half, Concordia defended three corner kicks that came one right after the other. The back line of Max Bisinger, Iker Casanova, Matt Schultz and Adrian Wambua did the job. Hurting matters for the Chargers, they played the final 75 minutes down a man due to a red card.
A fifth-year player like Campbell, Carlos Orquiz picked up his 11th assist and broke the school single season record (also the career record holder with 20 assists). Both Campbell and Orquiz want to keep their careers going as long as possible. Said Campbell, “Yes we finished second (during the regular season), but the job’s not done. We have a lot to do and we’re going to do it as a family. We came out today and got the job done.”
Abdel-Ahad wasn’t far from turning in a hat trick. He had a header go off the crossbar and had another goal that was disallowed due to an offside call. Briar Cliff keeper Coy Leytham made three saves in giving his team a fighting chance. Bernardo Torres put two shots on goal for the Chargers (5-8-6).
Weides and company are hoping for a postseason run like his 2015, 2016 and 2017 squads enjoyed in reaching the GPAC final. Said Weides, “It’s about surviving and advancing. Every day is a gift and you have to survive and advance to get another gift.”
The Bulldogs will be at home again on Tuesday for the GPAC semifinals. Concordia will take on third-seeded Dordt (9-3-6) at 5 p.m. CT. Concordia will be out to avenge the 4-3 loss it suffered in Sioux Center, Iowa, back on Sept. 21. The Bulldogs have not tasted defeat since then. Concordia is also now 8-0-1 at home in 2022.