SEWARD, Neb. – With two goals in the opening 20 minutes, the Concordia University men’s soccer team appeared to be on its way to picking apart Morningside in the manner that it did a year earlier. However, the Mustangs knocked in a 47th-minute goal and made things tense the rest of the way before the Bulldogs ultimately prevailed, 2-1, inside Bulldog Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The victory moves head coach Jason Weides’ squad to 5-3-1 overall and 2-0 in conference play. Concordia is now 4-0-1 over its last five games.
“We knew Morningside was a good team and we knew they would test us,” Weides said. “Fortunately we played well in the first half. We really had the bulk of possession and chances and had Morningside on the back of their feet. We just couldn’t get that extra goal to help finish the game off. Credit to Morningside. I thought they came out really well in the second half and made some good adjustments.”
The two teams were dead even in terms of total shots with 11 apiece. The Mustangs took a lot of their best chances over the final 45 minutes. The steady play of Concordia goalkeeper Brendan Buchanan proved big when he made a diving save moving to his right on a shot from Ben Karloff in the 67th minute. Then in the 74th minute, the Mustangs’ Jesse Rodriguez hit the right post on a clear look inside the box. Concordia could once again exhale.
Those nerve-racking moments would have been difficult to forecast early on. Concordia took the lead in the 14th minute when Julian Amaya played a pass from Sam Toufique and found the back of the net for his second goal of the season. In the 20th minute, Toby Down registered his first career collegiate goal off an assist from senior Chris DeFeyter. The game suddenly looked a lot like the 5-1 Bulldog win over Morningside in 2013.
Down, who also came close to a 60th-minute goal that would have provided more breathing room, could provide a nice goal-scoring weapon the rest of the way now that he got his first one on the board.
“It’s a long time coming. I’ve been trying to get this goal for a while,” said Down, a native of Hong Kong, China. “I’m happy the team had a good performance in the first half. We should have had a better performance in the second half, but we got the win.”
The biggest positive from Saturday’s victory was how Concordia clicked from the opening kickoff.
“We came out of the gates firing,” Weides said. “This season we’ve actually started slow in games and worked our way into and played better in second halves. This game it was flipped. I thought our guys were buzzing right away from the whistle.
“Toby took a nice goal. He’s put himself in good positions throughout this year. We knew once he got the first the floodgates would open.”
Joao De Camargo Soares got Morningside right back into the game with his goal in the 47th minute. De Camargo Soares led the Mustangs with four shots.
The Bulldogs return to their home turf on Wednesday to host York College (6-3-1) at 7 p.m. in what will be the final regular-season nonconference game. Last season Concordia defeated the Panthers 6-2 in York.