Concordia University tied for seventh in the 2011 GPAC Men’s Soccer Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Bulldogs posted a 7-10-2 overall record with a 4-7 mark in conference play during the 2010 season.
Last year, the Bulldogs ended the regular season on a five-game losing streak but still managed to qualify for the GPAC Postseason Tournament. Concordia lost in the opening round to eventual National Champion Hastings College. Coach Jason Weides, now entering his fourth year as head coach, looks for his 2011 squad to reach new heights.
“We have so many goals and expectations for the team this year,” said Weides. “We are eyeing a spot in the GPAC Championship game. From there, it is a one-game playoff to earn a trip to Nationals.”
With a total of 15 returning letter winners and a talented recruiting class, it’s easy to see why Coach Weides is optimistic about the 2011 season. “We will have the largest senior class in my time here at Concordia, and that will give us plenty of experienced leaders,” noted Weides. “I also believe many of the newcomers will immediately compete for starting spots and significant minutes.”
Concordia had three players receive GPAC honors following the 2010 season. Aaron Skipworth was a second team All-GPAC performer, while Todd May and Kurt O’Kelly were honorable mention All-GPAC selections a year ago. Those three, along with sophomore Nathan Douglas, will lead the way for Concordia in 2011.
Skipworth scored a team-high nine goals and added four assists last season. O’Kelly started 18 games as a defender for the Bulldogs in his junior season, and May delivered five goals and two assists in just 12 starts. Douglas totaled seven goals (2nd-Team) and five assists as a freshman in 2010. Coach Weides will look to this group to be especially influential to the success of the 2011 squad.
“Aaron and Nathan were our top two point scorers last year, so they should again be influential in scoring goals,” remarked Weides. “Todd will be an important figure in the midfield helping to dictate the pace of the game. Kurt will help command and anchor a relatively young backline. We should be solid in possession and moving forward. We return most of our attacking players, so we should build on our dynamic attacking play.”
Several other starters also return in 2011. Jeremiah Majorins, Kolt O’Kelly, Eric Fox, Tim Soenksen, Raul Lopez and Ian Euler all contributed significantly during the 2010 season. Chris Podlich also returns in goal for the Bulldogs. Podlich started 16 games in goal last season and totaled 101 saves and two shutouts on the year.
Hastings College, Doane College and Sioux Falls were the top teams in the GPAC last season, and Hastings won the 2010 NAIA Championship. Even with the departure of Sioux Falls, the GPAC should again be balanced with several talented teams. “Hastings should be the preseason GPAC favorite,” said Weides. “They had a great run last year to win the national championship, and they return the bulk of their team. But the great thing about the GPAC in men’s soccer is that every game is a challenge.”
The Bulldogs open the regular season at home against William Penn on August 27. Conference play begins on September 24, and there are eight scheduled home contests on the 2011 schedule.
“This team is going to be fun to work with, because they all know that we are capable of reaching new heights this year,” added Weides. “Our athletes appear hungry to prove themselves, and I expect that they will approach all of our games with great confidence.”