Hernandez golden goal makes for victorious senior night

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 22, 2016 in Men's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – On an evening that the Concordia University men’s soccer team used to celebrate its six seniors, a Marcelo Hernandez penalty kick goal in overtime allowed the Bulldogs to celebrate some more. Concordia relinquished a 1-0 lead, but made up for it by ending things quickly in the extra session and defeated visiting Briar Cliff, 2-1, on Saturday night.

Ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad is now 9-2-2 over its last 13 games versus GPAC opponents. Concordia has raised its season records to 8-5-1 overall and to 5-2 in conference play. The Bulldogs are in the driver’s seat for a third-place GPAC finish.

“It was overall positive. I thought we started the game really strong,” Weides said. “We’ve been working on playing a little simpler. I think that came out in the first half for the most part. Briar Cliff didn’t make it easy by any means. They played really well tonight and put us under a lot of pressure. Once they tied it up we were on our heels for a little while.”

Overtime was like Déjà vu all over again. Just as Hernandez did in the 2-1 overtime win over Northwestern on Sept. 24, he drilled the game winner. This time around it came after the Chargers were penalized for a foul in the box after just 24 seconds of overtime had elapsed. Hernandez then snuck the ball into the goal to the left of keeper Charlie Enright.

Senior Carlos Acosta had missed a PK earlier in the contest, but his good friend had his back. It was an emotional night for Acosta, whose mother was in attendance. The native of Cali, Colombia, had tears streaming as he watched a videoboard piece with recorded messages from members of his family.

“I was crying. I was crying because I miss them so much,” Acosta said. “It’s been a long time being so far from home. It’s actually a mix of feelings. I’m really happy right now because I’m part of this team. Knowing that we’re getting towards the end, that’s a little bit sad.”

The Bulldogs got off to a sterling start when sophomore Micah Lehenbauer pushed his team high season goal count to seven with a score that Enright got a piece of before the ball crossed the goal line. Lehenbauer and company outshot Briar Cliff (8-8, 2-6 GPAC), 22-15. Concordia enjoyed a decisive 12-5 advantage in shots on goal.

Goalkeeper Mark Horsburgh, also a senior, made four saves on the night. One of which came in the second half and was particularly highlight reel worthy. The lone goal that he surrendered occurred in the 25th minute when Christopher Nkoghe got loose for the equalizer.

The Bulldogs will end the regular season with two GPAC road trips next week. First up is Wednesday’s jaunt to Crete to take on rival Doane (7-6-1, 4-3 GPAC). Kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. CT. Last season’s meeting ended in a 1-1 draw. Concordia is hoping to keep itself in position to host when the GPAC quarterfinals take place on Thursday, Nov. 3. The top four seeds earn the right to play at home in the postseason’s opening round.