SEWARD, Neb. – Ninth-year head coach Jason Weides was a Bulldog defender the last two times the Concordia University men’s soccer team served as the host for a postseason game. The 15-year drought will come to an end on Thursday when the third-seeded Bulldogs (9-6-2, 6-3 GPAC) welcome sixth-seeded Northwestern (7-11, 4-5) to Bulldog Stadium for a 7 p.m. CT kickoff.
Last year Concordia did things the hard way while making its way to a GPAC tournament championship. The No. 6 seed in 2015, the Bulldogs knocked off each of the league’s top three seeds in the postseason, holding all of them scoreless as part of an improbable run. Concordia is meeting up with Northwestern in the conference quarterfinals for the second-straight year and for the third time in four seasons.
Though the Bulldogs outshot the Red Raiders, 16-6, in the regular-season matchup in Seward on Sept. 24, they needed overtime to finally put the game away. Marcelo Hernandez ended the contest early in overtime with a golden goal that resulted in a 2-1 Concordia win. The 2015 GPAC quarterfinal was also decided by just a single goal. Sean Doran’s 74th-minute goal was the only score of the 1-0 affair.
The 2015 GPAC tournament title allowed Weides’ program to complete unfinished business from the previous season when Concordia dropped a 2-1 overtime heartbreaker on a bone chilling night at No. 11 Hastings in the conference semifinals. The Bulldogs are looking to reach at least the GPAC semis for a third-consecutive season.
Though Concordia was upset by Dakota Wesleyan in a regular-season finale that it dominated possession in, the Bulldogs have been on an impressive run against GPAC opponents. They carry a record of 10-3-2 over their last 15 matches versus conference foes into postseason play. Two of the three losses came against ranked opponents – No. 4 Hastings and No. 23 Midland.
During the regular season, Concordia produced a plus-19 goal differential while holding opponents to an average of one goal per game (third best in the GPAC). One of the Bulldogs’ biggest advantages is the presence of battled tested senior goalkeeper Mark Horsburgh, who made 26 saves over last season’s three GPAC tournament contests. Offensively, junior Micah Lehenbauer leads the offensive attack with eight goals on the year.
The winner of Thursday’s game will advance to play in the GPAC semifinals on Tuesday, Nov. 8 (see schedule below). Concordia last won a GPAC tournament home game in 2000, when it defeated the University of Sioux Falls in the quarterfinals.
Thursday, Nov. 3 – Quarterfinals
No. 8 Dordt at No. 1 Hastings, 7 p.m.
No. 5 Doane at No. 4 Morningside, 7 p.m.
No. 6 Northwestern at No. 3 Concordia, 7 p.m.
No. 7 Briar Cliff at No. 2 Midland, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 8 – Semifinals
No. 1/8 winner vs. No. 4/5 winner (highest seed hosts)
No. 3/6 winner vs. No. 2/7 winner (highest seed hosts)
Friday, Nov. 11 – Championship