SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s soccer team continues its postseason run tonight (Tuesday) when it takes on its biggest challenge yet this season. The Bulldogs travel to play GPAC regular-season champion and No. 11-ranked Hastings at 7 p.m. Frigid temperatures are expected to greet the two rivals as the action gets underway.
The game can be seen live online via Hastings’ Stretch Internet portal.
Head coach Jason Weides knows exactly what his team is up against. Concordia is looking for its first win over the Broncos since 1998.
“It will be a great challenge,” Weides said following the Bulldogs’ quarterfinal win. “They’re a really great team and have accomplished a lot over the last several years. The expectation every year is that all roads lead through Hastings. You know that if you want to get to where you hope to go, you have to beat Hastings. We’re going to have to do it in the semifinals.”
While the Broncos (15-2-2) have not lost since a 5-2 defeat versus No. 16 Kansas Wesleyan University on Sept. 24, Concordia has put together a nice run itself since beginning the season at 1-3. Junior midfielder Gideon Soenksen and the Bulldogs are 9-2-4 since a 1-0 loss on Sept. 6 and are riding high after a 1-0 conference quarterfinal win over Doane.
In the postseason victory in Crete, sophomore Marcos Leon provided the lone goal and another stellar collective defensive effort helped senior goalkeeper Brendan Buchanan pick up his seventh shutout of the season. He needs one more to tie Oly Krenk’s program single-season record of eight shutouts in 2000.
But Hastings, which rolled past Dakota Wesleyan, 4-0, in its quarterfinal game, has been shut out only once all season. The Broncos, topped by Jake Ramsay’s 13 goals, lead the GPAC with an average of 3.0 goals per game (23rd most among all NAIA teams). As good as Hastings is on the attack, it’s even better at defending its goal. Head coach Chris Kranjc, now in his 16th season leading the program, oversees a squad that ranks fourth nationally in goals against average (0.46).
Led by backline stalwarts Justin Lawrie and Mark Campbell, Concordia kept Hastings off the board until the 67th minute when the two teams met in Seward in Oct. 29. The Broncos won, 2-0, but finished with a shot advantage of only 10-8 in a competitive contest that saw only six total shots on goal. In the victory, Hastings goalkeeper Alex Guyer earned one of his 12 shutouts on the year.
Hastings owns a 9-1 home record with the only loss coming against Kansas Wesleyan. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are 4-1-3 in true road contests (loss at Dordt, 3-2, on Oct. 4).
Concordia (42-27-7 over the last four seasons) and Hastings are two of only four teams (in addition to Midland and Northwestern) in the GPAC that have won 10 or more games in each of the last four seasons.
The winner of tonight’s match will advance to Friday’s GPAC title game and take on either second-seeded Midland (11-7-1) or third-seeded Dordt (13-6).
Goals scored per game: 1.53 (7th in GPAC)
Goals allowed per game: 0.93 (2nd in GPAC)
Goals: Gideon Soenksen – 6
Assists: Gideon Soenksen – 4
Shots: Toby Down – 44
Shots on goal: Gideon Soenksen – 22
Goalkeeper: Brendan Buchanan – .906 goals against average, .806 save %, 75 saves, 7 shutouts
Goals scored per game: 3.0 (1st in GPAC)
Goals allowed per game: 0.63 (1st in GPAC)
Goals: Jake Ramsay – 13
Assists: Lucas Venegas – 8
Shots: Jake Ramsay – 66
Shots on goal: Jake Ramsay – 36
Goalkeeper: Alex Guyer – .455 goals against average, .822 save %, 37 saves, 12 shutouts