GPAC semifinal rematch at Midland looms on Tuesday

By Jacob Knabel on Nov. 7, 2016 in Men's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – In a game that will go down in Concordia University men’s soccer lore, the Bulldogs celebrated in Fremont last November when Mark Horsburgh’s successful penalty kick clinched the GPAC semifinal over second-seeded Midland. Head coach Jason Weides wouldn’t complain about a repeat of that performance. Ranked 14th in the NAIA, the Warriors appear even stronger this time around.

This year’s semifinal tussle between third-seeded Concordia (10-6-2) and second-seeded Midland (16-2-1) is set for 7 p.m. CT at Heedum Field on Tuesday.

Weides knows it will take a great performance from his squad to avenge the 2-1 loss it suffered at the hands of the Warriors inside Bulldog Stadium on Oct. 12.

“We have to start well. The first time we played Midland we just didn’t start well,” Weides said. “We gave up two early goals. Midland’s a good team, don’t get me wrong, but I think we gifted them a couple goals. Then we ended up going down a man in the first half. We just really dug ourselves a big hole. We responded really well and made it 2-1, even down a man. Now it’s about playing better in the first 15 minutes.”

Champion of the 2015 GPAC tournament, Concordia advanced to the semifinals for the third-straight season thanks to last week’s 2-1 quarterfinal home victory over Northwestern. Junior Lewis Rathbone supplied the offense with a pair of header goals. It marked the second year in a row that the Bulldogs got past the Red Raiders in the quarterfinal round.

GPAC nailbiters have become the norm for Concordia, which has seen seven of 10 games against conference opponents come down to a margin of just a single goal. The Bulldogs are 4-3 in those seven instances. Dating back to last season, Weides has led his program to a mark of 11-3-2 over its last 16 contests against conference opponents. During that stretch, Concordia has beaten every current GPAC member at least once.

Behind Ali Sodal (22 goals), Midland boasts one of the most dangerous goal scoring teams in the nation. The Warriors rank 10th among all NAIA teams with an average of 3.7 goals per game. Midland’s only defeats this season have come against Bellevue University and then No. 4 Hastings.

Concordia will put its four-game GPAC tournament unbeaten streak on the line while following the lead of senior goalkeeper Mark Horsburgh, one of the heroes of last year’s postseason run. Meanwhile, Midland hopes to reach the GPAC championship game for the fifth time in the last six years. The Warriors last won the GPAC tournament title in 2013 when they upset Hastings in the final.

Tuesday’s winner will play either top-seeded Hastings (18-0, 9-0 GPAC) or fourth-seeded Morningside (14-4-1, 5-4 GPAC) in the championship on Friday (see below).

Thursday, Nov. 3 (GPAC quarterfinals)
No. 1 Hastings 4, No. 8 Dordt 0
No. 4 Morningside 2, No. 5 Doane 1
No. 3 Concordia 2, No. 6 Northwestern 1
No. 2 Midland 5, No. 7 Briar Cliff 1 

Tuesday, Nov. 8 (GPAC semifinals)
No. 4 Morningside at No. 1 Hastings, 7 p.m.
No. 3 Concordia at No. 2 Midland, 7 p.m. 

Friday, Nov. 11 (GPAC championship)