SEWARD, Neb. – The GPAC tournament champions will be attempting to make history this week as they head to Winona Lake, Ind., for the first round of the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship. As announced on Monday (Nov. 14), the Bulldogs have been placed in the Winona Lake Bracket hosted by Grace College (Ind.). In the first round of the national tournament, the third-seeded Concordia Men’s Soccer team will take on second-seeded Keiser University (Fla.). In the other matchup of the bracket, host and top seed Grace will take on fourth-seeded Lindsey Wilson University (Ky.).
All games at the Winona Lake Bracket will be held at 1st Source Bank Field in Winona Lake, Ind. The field is a natural grass surface. For a look at the venue, click HERE.
First Round – Thursday, Nov. 17
(1) Grace vs. (4) Lindsey Wilson, 3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET
(2) Keiser vs. (3) Concordia, 6 p.m. CT/7 p.m. ET
Second Round – Saturday, Nov. 19
First-round winners, 12 p.m. CT/1 p.m. ET
The Winona Lake Field
(1) Grace College (Ind.)
Head Coach: Arron Patrick, 4th season
Record: 11-2-6, 5-1-3 Crossroads League
NAIA National Ranking: 13th
Goals Scored/Allowed: 39 / 13
Top goal scorer: Martim Sequiera – 17
Goalkeeper: Matteo Conci – 0.72 GAA, 64 saves (18 starts)
All-time nationals appearances: 3
(2) Keiser University (Fla.)
Head Coach: Gavin Oldham, 6th season
Record: 12-1-2, 7-1 Sun Conference
NAIA National Ranking: 9th
Goals Scored/Allowed: 64 / 13
Top goal scorer: Rui Reis – 12
Goalkeeper: Santiago Nebot Oliver – 0.85 GAA, 41 saves (15 starts)
All-time nationals appearances: 8
(3) Concordia University
Head Coach: Jason Weides, 15th season
Record: 15-2-3, 8-1-2 GPAC
NAIA National Ranking: Receiving Votes
Goals Scored/Allowed: 51 / 18
Top goal scorer: Dominic Abdel-Ahad – 12
Goalkeeper: Gabriel Mendoza – 1.03 GAA, 40 saves (10 starts)
All-time nationals appearances: 2
(4) Lindsey Wilson University (Ky.)
Head Coach: Sicelo Buthelezi, 1st season
Record: 10-6-3, 6-3-1 Mid-South Conference
NAIA National Ranking: Not Ranked
Goals Scored/Allowed: 47 / 31
Top goal scorer: Sadam Masereka – 11 goals
Goalkeeper: Pablo Costa – 1.28 GAA, 47 saves (13 starts)
All-time nationals appearances: 29
· A win on Thursday would make the 2022 Bulldogs the first team in program history to claim victory at the national tournament. Concordia’s first national tournament appearance came in 2015 thanks to a GPAC tournament championship that included conference postseason wins over each of the league’s top three seeds. The ’15 team was sent to Bartlesville, Okla., for the NAIA opening round, where the Bulldogs were defeated by second-ranked Oklahoma Wesleyan University, 3-0. The 2015 squad was led by three second team All-GPAC honorees: Julian Amaya, Lewis Rathbone and Justin Lawrie.
· On Monday, all-conference honors were handed out. Eight Concordia players earned some form of All-GPAC recognition. First team accolades went to Dominic Abdel-Ahad, Max Bisinger and Carlos Orquiz while second team honors were grabbed by Martin Herrera, Matt Schultz, Isaiah Shaddick and Ryan Wokutch. In addition, keeper Gabriel Mendoza garnered honorable mention. Abdel-Ahad has led the team with 12 goals while Orquiz has broken program records for assists in a season (12) and in a career (21). Their combined efforts have helped the Bulldogs outscore their opponents, 51-18, over 20 games.
· Weides has led the Bulldogs to the GPAC tournament championship game four times (2015, 2016, 2017 and 2022). In each case, Concordia has played at Hastings. The results in previous championships were a 1-0 win in 2015, a 3-1 loss in 2016 and a 2-1 defeat in 2017. The Bulldogs are back on the mountaintop thanks to last week’s gritty effort. Concordia trailed 2-0 at halftime before erasing that deficit with a goal apiece from Adrian Wambua (52’) and Carlos Orquiz (84’). The Bulldogs managed to hoist the trophy and banner despite being outshot by the Broncos, 35-8. In the PK shootout, successful Concordia tries came from Victor Meneses, Joao Pedro Verissimo, Carlos Orquiz and Matt Schultz. In round four of PK’s, Federico Simonetti made a save to clinch the championship for the Bulldogs.
· The 1-0 victory over Dordt in the GPAC semifinals marked the 150th in the coaching career of Weides, who was hired as the program’s head coach prior to the 2008 season. Weides has now led the program to two GPAC tournament titles and to two national tournament berths. Over the years, the Bulldogs have been remarkably consistent in claiming at least 10 wins in 11 of the past 12 seasons. In 15 years as head coach, Weides currently owns an overall record of 150-103-33, making him the winningest soccer coach in school history.
· Concordia has not lost since its 4-3 defeat at Dordt on Sept. 21. Since then, the Bulldogs have gone 9-0-3 with two of the ties coming against fellow national qualifier Hastings. Entering Thursday’s first round game, Concordia has played against three 2022 national qualifiers: Bellevue University, Corban University (Ore.) and Hastings. The Bulldogs came away with a 1-0 home victory over Bellevue. In the season opening trip to Oregon, Concordia dropped a 1-0 decision at Corban. Finally, the Bulldogs tied twice with Hastings (officially, the GPAC tournament title game goes down as a draw).
· The Bulldogs have drawn defending national champion Keiser in the first round of the national tournament. The Seahawks defeated the University of Mobile (Ala.), 2-0, in the 2021 NAIA national championship game. Keiser returns two players who were selected to last year’s national championship all-tournament team: Lucas Jacobs and Alejandro Varela. In the most recent NAIA coaches’ poll, Keiser was ranked ninth. Bracket host Grace landed at No. 13 while Lindsey Wilson is not receiving votes. As for Concordia, it has generated votes in six national polls this season.
The final site
There are 40 teams playing in 10 first/second round sites across the country. The 10 winners that emerge from those brackets will advance to play at the final site of the national championship: Jack Allen Sports Complex in Decatur, Ala. Action from Decatur is slated to begin Nov. 29 and run through Dec. 5. For additional details on the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship, check out the NAIA men’s soccer home page HERE.