MITCHELL, S.D. – Playing in his home state, senior Matt Meisinger picked an opportune time for his second career goal. Meisinger found the back of the net for the game winner in the 90th minute to lift the Concordia University men’s soccer team to a critical 3-2 win over host Dakota Wesleyan in Mitchell, S.D., on Saturday afternoon.
A loss would have dealt a significant blow to the GPAC playoff hopes of eighth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad. Instead, the Bulldogs (8-6-2, 3-4-2 GPAC) avoided a potentially crippling defeat with a pair of goals in the final eight minutes to erase a 2-1 deficit. Concordia currently sits in sixth place in the league standings.
“Though it was not an overall great performance, I’m pleased with how we responded,” Weides said. “Our guys kept fighting and battling. You could tell they just believed, even when it got late in the game. We needed a special moment from someone and we got that from Matt.”
After leading 1-0 at halftime, Concordia stumbled out of the break, allowing a 59th minute goal to Alex Nelson and a 61st minute score to Derek Brenner. In the blink of an eye, the Bulldogs found themselves trailing thanks to a rough start to the second half.
Concordia waited more than 22 minutes to come up with the equalizing goal. With the Bulldogs on the brink of defeat, senior Justin Lawrie surfaced with a set-piece goal that knotted the score and shifted the game’s momentum. Roughly seven minutes later, Meisinger, a Sioux Falls native, recorded the game-winning goal.
The late-game heroics were a much-needed tonic for a Bulldog team that entered the season expecting to be closer to the top of the conference standings.
“A loss wouldn’t have eliminated us from the playoffs but it would have made it incredibly hard,” Weides said. “Now we’ve got a really good shot. It was huge for us to come back.”
With the team’s performance wavering in the second half, Weides went six players deep on his bench. Meisinger was one of several Bulldog reserves to positively impact the game.
Once again, Lawrie proved tough in the back for Concordia. In part due to his steady play, the Bulldogs easily outshot the Tigers, 17-4. However, Dakota Wesleyan converted on both shots on frame to make it a tense final 45 minutes.
Concordia took an early lead when Micah Lehenbauer, assisted by Lawrie, turned in his fifth goal of the campaign in the 42nd minute. The Bulldogs’ offensive effort ran dry for more than 40 minutes before Lawrie notched his first goal of 2015.
Weides’ squad has a week off before closing the regular season with Mount Marty on Oct. 31. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. from Bulldog Stadium where Concordia will celebrate senior night.