GPAC quarterfinal preview: Concordia headed to Morningside

By Jacob Knabel on Nov. 1, 2021 in Men's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – The slate gets wiped clean this week as the Concordia University Men’s Soccer team enters the postseason. After an up-and-down regular season, the fifth-seeded Bulldogs are readying to play at fourth-seeded Morningside on Wednesday in the GPAC quarterfinals. Kickoff from Elwood Olsen Stadium is set for 7 p.m. CT. Head Coach Jason Weides’ squad finished the regular season on Oct. 27 with a 1-1 draw at Doane.

Game Info – GPAC Quarterfinals
(5) Concordia (7-7-3, 5-4-2 GPAC) at (4) Morningside (11-6, 8-3 GPAC)
Wednesday, Nov. 3 | 7 p.m.
Elwood Olsen Stadium | Sioux City, Iowa
Live Webcast | Live Stats
--Admission: $10 for adults/senior citizens, $3 for K-12; only those with NAIA passes and GPAC student ID’s are admitted free of charge.

By the numbers

·        The Bulldogs placed fifth in the final conference regular season standings while putting up 17 GPAC points (three points for a win and one for a tie). Concordia finished behind Northwestern (10-1), Briar Cliff (10-1), Hastings (8-2-1) and Morningside (8-3). While the Bulldogs went 0-3-1 against those top four seeds, each of the three losses were decided by one-goal margins. Concordia and Hastings played to a 3-3 draw on Oct. 16.

·        Through 17 regular season games, Concordia has outscored its foes by a combined total of 34-20 (23-11 in conference play). The team’s most dependable attacking option has been Yessine Bessaïes, who leads the squad in both goals (six) and assists (five). Four teammates have contributed four goals apiece: Martin Herrera, Garrett Perry, Isaiah Shaddick and Ryan Wokutch. Eli Rhodes has chipped in with four assists. At keeper, three players have made four or more starts: Gabriel Mendoza (eight), Callum Goldsmith (five) and Federico Simonetti (four). Iker Casanova and Decker Mattimoe are the lone two players on the roster to have started all 17 games. That is in part due to injuries that have popped up to a number of key players.

·        Under Weides, the program has been no stranger to GPAC tournament runs. From 2014 through 2018, the Bulldogs reached at least the GPAC semifinal round each season and appeared in GPAC championship games in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The thrills of the 2015 postseason will long be remembered by everyone who experienced it. In ’15, Concordia got past each of the GPAC’s top three seeds while claiming the program’s only GPAC title. In the conference final, the Bulldogs upset then 19th-ranked Hastings, 1-0. In 2019 and 2020, the Bulldogs exited the playoffs in the quarterfinals both years.

·        Concordia’s active streak of 10 seasons in a row with at least 10 wins is on the line. With the win total hovering at seven, the Bulldogs will have to make a significant postseason run to keep the streak alive. During that stretch (which began in 2011), Weides has led the program to a combined record of 117-68-25. The major highlights were the GPAC tournament title in 2015 and the 16-win campaign (school record for wins in a season) produced by the 2017 squad. By most measures, the ’17 team stands out as the best in the history of the program.

·        If Wednesday’s clash is anything like the Concordia-Morningside regular season meeting on Oct. 6, then there will be plenty of opportunities for goals on both sides. The Mustangs won that matchup, 3-2. Zarbo Gero produced the game winning goal. The Bulldogs fell despite having a 23-21 advantage in shots. Concordia is hoping to knock off Morningside for the first time since a 3-0 win over the Mustangs in 2017.

The opponent

Morningside is a strong program that won the GPAC regular season title in 2020. Head Coach Tom Maxon is in his 21st season leading the Mustangs. He’s been named GPAC Coach of the Year three times and has guided Morningside to the national tournament in each of the past three seasons. A dangerous offensive team, the Mustangs have outscored their opponents collectively, 52-26, in 2021. The team’s top two goal scorers are Moritz Lusch (11) and Gero Zarbo (nine).

GPAC Tournament pairings/schedule

The Concordia/Morningside winner will play either top-seeded Northwestern or eighth-seeded Mount Marty in the GPAC semifinals on Saturday. The conference championship game is slated for Thursday, Nov. 11.

Quarterfinals – Wednesday, Nov. 3
(8) Mount Marty at (1) Northwestern, 7 p.m.
(5) Concordia at (4) Morningside, 7 p.m.
(6) Midland at (3) Hastings, 7 p.m.
(7) Jamestown at (2) Briar Cliff, 2 p.m.

Semifinals – Saturday, Nov. 6
1/8 winner vs. 4/5 winner, time TBA
2/7 winner vs. 3/6 winner, time TBA

Championship – Thursday, Nov. 11
Highest remaining seed hosts, time TBA