SEWARD, Neb. – Senior Marcelo Hernandez helped ignite the offensive attack while the Concordia University men’s soccer team turned in a clean sheet courtesy of a well-rounded defensive effort on Tuesday night. A game that was scoreless for nearly 40 minutes resulted in a 2-0 win over visiting York College inside Bulldog Stadium.
Concordia’s 10th-straight series win over the Panthers pushed its season record to 2-0. Head coach Jason Weides’ squad defeated Sterling College, 3-2, in last week’s season opener. In a winning effort, the latest performance left more to be desired.
“We didn’t take as big of a step forward as we would have hoped,” Weides said. “So far from scrimmage to scrimmage and our first game we’ve taken good strides forward. I think we took a little bit of a step backwards today, especially in the first half. Credit to York. They made it really challenging on us.
“I was pleased that we got much better in the second half. Now we just need to convert more of our chances.”
Still in his first season as the starting keeper, Jack Bennett made one of the finest saves in his career to date when he tapped a well-struck ball over the crossbar to avoid trouble and keep the shutout intact. He got plenty of help from the back line anchored by the likes of center back Luke Batters and left back Florian Caraballo. Their work has helped limit the team’s first two opponents to a combined total of nine shots. Concordia owned a 17-5 advantage in shots on Tuesday.
“We’re working well in the defensive aspect,” says Caraballo, who is in his second year at Concordia after playing at Marshalltown Community College. “I feel better. I feel more engaged with people and that I can trust them more. I feel more comfortable.”
On the attack, sophomore Carlos Ferrer got loose on several occasions. In teaming up with Hernandez, Ferrer slotted the ball past the keeper in the 49th minute. Later in the game, Ferrer just missed out on a second goal after being played through on a perfectly executed pass from Toby Down. Thankfully, Concordia had some breathing room built by Ferrer and a penalty kick goal from Hernandez in the 40th minute.
The Bulldogs fended off York despite the absence of senior captains Micah Lehenbauer and Lewis Rathbone. Both were held out due to injury but are expected back in the near future. Lehenbauer and Rathbone notched a goal apiece in last week’s win.
Five different players have accounted for Concordia’s five goals so far this season. Hernandez and Lehenbauer tied for a team best eight goals in 2016.
In this weekend’s action, CUNE hopes to show that is has the superior program among the Concordias. In action in River Forest, Ill., the Bulldogs will take on Concordia University, Chicago on Friday (4:30 p.m.) and Concordia University, Wisconsin on Saturday (11:45 a.m.). CUC and CUW reside in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference of NCAA Division III.
“I think it’s really exciting,” Weides said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve played any of those schools. We’re excited to see them. I’ve heard good things about a lot of different Concordias and I know there are some good tests are some really good tests and some good soccer programs amongst the other Concordias around the nation. I’m intrigued to see where we stack up against them.”