SEWARD, Neb. – A group of 13 seniors appeared in their final regular-season home game while helping the Concordia University men’s soccer team to a 10-1 blowout win over visiting Mount Marty on Saturday night. Seven different Bulldogs registered in the goal column for a squad that used 26 players in a season-best scoring outburst.
Eighth-year head coach Jason Weides’ Bulldogs will enter postseason play with an overall record of 9-6-2. Concordia went 4-4-2 in conference action.
“I thought overall we played really well,” Weides said. “Every game we really try and focus on ourselves and us performing well and not focusing on our opponent. That’s every game. I think the guys really did a good job of that. We haven’t always done that throughout the season, but we did a really good job of that today.”
Similar to his scoring explosion at York College on Sept. 1, sophomore forward Toby Down wasted little time in recording a hat trick. The Hong Kong native knocked in three goals before 18 minutes had elapsed. It was the second hat trick of the season for Down, who now has seven goals on the year.
Concordia put the game to bed before the halftime break. Tyler Jensen (25’), Dean Stevens (29’) and Aries Fung (44’) added a goal apiece in the opening 45 minutes. For good measure, the Bulldogs tacked on early second-half scores courtesy of Micah Lehenbauer (49’) and Nathan Northcutt (50’).
Both Fung and junior Dan Stephens (71’) booked their first career goals on Saturday night. Stephens entered the game in the second half and was set up beautifully by a cross in the box from Lewis Rathbone. While he did not score a goal of his own, Rathbone was active, registering six shots and a trio of assists. Lehenbauer also chipped in a second goal and Dean Stevens found the back of the net in the 29th minute.
Mount Marty (0-18, 0-10 GPAC), which went winless this season, played on the defensive the entire night. Concordia unleashed a season high 39 shots while narrowly missing out on numerous additional opportunities on the attack. The Lancers managed only six shots, including two on goal. They got on the board in the 84th minute when Danny Barillas capitalized on a penalty kick.
A win in the quarterfinals of the GPAC tournament would give the Bulldogs a double-digit win total for the fifth-consecutive season. The current senior class, headlined by 2014 first team all-conference honoree Gideon Soenksen, has an overall record of 40-29-6 since the start of the 2012 season.
“It is kind of sad knowing this is probably the last game here,” Soenksen said. “When we came out here we knew it was just another game. We had to come out and win. It is sad, but we have to come out and move ahead to the next game.”
Soenksen and several other seniors such as Mark Campbell, Sean Doran and Justin Lawrie have played central roles in a large chunk of those 40 victories over the past four seasons. Together they make up the largest senior class that Weides has ever coached.
“You can’t sum it up into a couple sentences or a few minutes,” Weides. “Every senior class we’ve had has been special in some way. This class is really special just because of the size of it. You just don’t see it very often. I would imagine it’s probably one of the biggest senior classes in the history of Concordia.
“It’s a special group. They bonded really well as freshmen and stuck together throughout the whole time. I’m just really proud of what they’ve accomplished over the last four years.”
The Bulldogs now look forward to postseason play. Sixth-seeded Concordia will get a rematch with third-seeded Northwestern (12-5-1, 7-2-1 GPAC) on Tuesday (Nov. 3) in Orange City, Iowa, where the Red Raiders won the first meeting, 1-0, back on Sept. 26.
After a regular-season that featured ups and downs, the Bulldogs hope to advance beyond the semifinal round in which the 2014 campaign ended at Hastings.
“We know what we can do and we know ultimately the goal is the GPAC final,” Soenksen said. “Going up to Northwestern we haven’t had much luck. Hopefully this time we’ll have better luck and get a win.”