Concordia keeps pace near top of GPAC standings

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 14, 2017 in Men's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s soccer team walked off the field feeling much better than it did three days earlier in a 2-1 win over Doane. This time around, the final minutes were much less tense as the Bulldogs claimed a 3-0 victory over visiting Morningside on a night when Concordia honored its senior class. Two of those seniors contributed a goal apiece.

It continues to be a special season for 10th-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad, which has equaled a school record for most wins in a single campaign. The Bulldogs have moved to 12-1-1 overall and to 5-1 in conference. They are one game (three points) behind first-place Hastings in the GPAC standings.

“They really responded well,” Weides said of the latest performance. “We really got after them about their performance (versus Doane). We didn’t think it was up to snuff. I’m super proud of them because they played really well. They deserved the three points tonight.”

Three different players found the back of the net for Concordia. Senior Toby Down began the scoring with a 17th-minute goal. Down got behind the Mustang defense and knocked in a perfectly executed cross from fellow senior Marcelo Hernandez. It took a good 50 minutes, but the Bulldogs finally got some breathing room in the 67th minute when another terrific pass from Carlos Ferrer led to Hernandez’s goal.

For good measure, freshman Garrett Perry added a goal in the 80th minute. In a tremendous individual effort, Perry stole a throw in and proceeded to bury a strike from outside the 18, tucking it just inside the right post. While the seniors were under the spotlight, the rookie Perry showed another glimpse of what makes the future of the program exciting.

Anyone who’s paid attention to this 2017 team also knows Concordia can play a little defense. Goalkeeper Jack Bennett and company recorded their seventh shutout of the season and limited Morningside (7-3-3, 3-2 GPAC) to a grand total of four shots – just two on goal. One of the chances forced Bennett to make a highlight reel worthy diving save to his left early in the second half.

This group of seniors is the winningest class in the history of the men’s soccer program. Those who have been around for four years have combined for a record of 43-21-10 with a GPAC tournament title and at least 10 wins each season. Down, a native of Kowloon, Hong Kong, is keenly aware of how far the program has come.

“We just wanted to be better than that game (versus Doane),” Down said. “Every day you want to be better than the day before. I think we definitely were. It’s always nice to get a win. I think that’s the difference between this year and previous years is we’re getting the ugly wins. I know when I first got here we went to like seven overtimes.”

The Bulldogs outshot Morningside, 10-4. The Mustangs had entered the night with a three-game win streak that saw them defeat Mount Marty, University of Jamestown (N.D.) and Dakota Wesleyan. In perhaps its most impressive result of the season, Morningside played then No. 3 Grand View University (Iowa) to a 1-1 draw back on Aug. 30.

Just three games remain on the regular-season schedule. The next hurdle will be Wednesday’s (Oct. 18) trip to Fremont for a 7:30 p.m. CT kickoff at Midland (8-5, 4-1 GPAC). The Warriors were a 2016 national tournament at-large qualifier and are one of the GPAC’s best teams on an annual basis.