At a glance:
2011 Record: 11-5-3 Overall; 5-3-2 Great Plains Athletic Conference
Head Coach: Jason Weides
Record at School: 28-37-8 (four years)
Returning Starters: 6
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 9/9
Key Returners: MF Chris DeFeyter, F Nathan Douglas, MF Ian Euler, D Eric Fox, GK Chris Podlich, F Aaron Skipworth
Key Losses: D Jonathan Avalos, MF Raul Lopez, MF Todd May, F Kolt O’Kelly, D Kurt O’Kelly, MF Tim Soenksen
2011 GPAC All-Conference (*denotes returnee): *Chris DeFeyter (Honorable Mention), *Nathan Douglas (Second Team), Kurt O’Kelly (Second Team), *Chris Podlich (Honorable Mention), *Aaron Skipworth (Honorable Mention)
A senior-laden 2011 roster helped guide the Bulldogs to 11 wins in 2011, just one off the school mark of 12 victories set by the 2000 team. The graduation of nine seniors and the departure of two transfers from that squad means the 2012 edition of Concordia men’s soccer will have a different look, but not necessarily lowered expectations.
“In terms of a transition, yeah, there will be a transition to new faces, but not a transition of expectations,” head coach Jason Weides said. “It’s not like this is a rebuilding year. Expectations are not lowered because these guys are such good players and we’re missing them. Really it’s just a transition of faces. We have the same expectations for some of the guys coming in that we feel can really step in without missing a beat, and in some cases, may help elevate us to a new level.”
Forward Nathan Douglas, one of six starters back in the fold in 2012, returns for his junior season after a stellar sophomore campaign in which he led the team with 11 goals, a figure that tied for third in the GPAC. Douglas’ ability to find the back of the net powered Concordia to an average of 2.37 goals per game in 2011, second in the league behind only national runner up Hastings.
Douglas, who now has 18 goals and eight assists in his first two seasons as a Bulldog, impressed Weides from the very beginning.
“We have great expectations of Douglas,” Weides said. “He’s been a guy who’s done great things since the day he stepped on our campus. From an academic side to the athletic side he’s done a lot.
“He’s got a nose for putting it in the back of the net. He’s got a strong desire to be as professional as possible. He’s got a winning mentality. He certainly brings a winning mentality to our team. Losing is never good enough for him, and it’s not even just winning – it’s winning the right way.”
Douglas teams with senior Aaron Skipworth on an accomplished forward line. Skipworth tallied nine goals in 2011, giving him 29 goals in three solid seasons as a Bulldog. The Colorado Springs, Colo., native is just two goals off the school’s career goals record of 31, a mark held by Bernie Ochoa (2000-02).
Douglas and Skipworth are a talented pair of goal scorers with a great feel for how one another plays.
“Basically me and ‘Skip’ like to score goals,” Douglas said. “But we also like to express all of our other skills. We both have a lot of technical skills. We don’t get in each other’s way. We anticipate what each other’s going to do. We’ve had a great relationship the last two years.”
The biggest transformation comes on the back line where Concordia loses the services of GPAC Second Team All-Conference honoree Kurt O’Kelly and Jonathan Avalos. Weides hopes to offset those loses in part with newcomer Sean Doran, a 6-foot-6 physical presence from Ireland. Weides believes Doran will give the Bulldogs “a guy that can win the ball in the air.”
Midfielders Chris DeFeyter and Ian Euler, defender Eric Fox and goalkeeper Chris Podlich headline the rest of the returning core. The quartet combined for a total of 67 games started in 2011. Euler started all 19 of the team’s games, while Podlich played in 1,423 minutes of a possible 1,794. Podlich collected 91 saves and posted an .858 save percentage.
A potential breakout candidate singled out by Douglas is sophomore midfielder Kevin Soenksen. The Lincoln native saw action in 12 games last season and figures to have an increased role in 2012 after an impressive spring season.
The emergence of players like Soenksen combined with a highly-regarded recruiting class of 17 freshmen and the return of Douglas and Skipworth has Concordia hoping to rise to the top of the GPAC. The Bulldogs were left unsatisfied after a disappointing final stretch in 2011 in which they let home field in the league tourney slip away and then lost 3-1 to Midland to close the campaign. That sour taste leftover has them motivated to achieve much more.
“I usually put a lot of pressure on myself,” Douglas said. “I want to score as many goals and get as many assists as possible. If I’m doing that, it’s going to translate to more wins for Concordia. If it means scoring or even playing defense, I’ll do whatever I’m asked to do. I want to do everything to win the conference.”
Weides and Douglas think alike.
“I think our expectations are that’s not good enough,” Weides said of a potential repeat of last season. “I think, truth be told, if we finish 11-5-3, us as a coaching staff would be disappointed. Our players would be disappointed because we see what we’re capable of. We want more.
“We want to be in the GPAC Championship game.”
The Bulldogs begin their quest to reach the GPAC Championship game on Friday when they take on William Penn (Iowa) in Oskaloosa, Iowa, at 7 p.m.
Fall Season Preview Schedule