HASTINGS, Neb. – Faced with the unenviable challenge of traveling to league powerhouse and 11th-ranked Hastings on a dangerously chilly night, the Concordia University men’s soccer team fell excruciatingly short of pulling off the stunner. The Broncos came from behind for a 2-1 overtime win in Tuesday night’s GPAC semifinal battle.
The Bulldogs led 1-0 from the 13th minute all the way until a Marc Tautz equalizer with just 1:56 left on the clock. The Broncos then celebrated in the 99th minute when leading goal scorer Jake Ramsay perfectly executed a shot at the top of the 18 that barely beat senior goalkeeper Brendan Buchanan, who dove to his right.
On a night when Buchanan seemed to be nearly impenetrable, Hastings (16-2-2) did just enough to end the Bulldogs’ season in heartbreaking fashion. Concordia closes 2014 with an overall mark of 10-6-4.
“It was a really good performance top-to-bottom,” head coach Jason Weides said. “We have a lot of disappointed guys because we were so close. Our goal was to get to the final and we fell a little short.
“Our guys poured their hearts out tonight. You can’t fault the effort. We’re walking off the field without any regrets.”
Despite a significant discrepancy in the shot count, it appeared as though the Bulldogs were on the verge of leaving town with their first win over Hastings since 1998. Buchanan repeatedly made highlight-reel, sprawling saves (11 total saves) to frustrate the Broncos. In the 88th minute, the native of Broomfield, Colo., turned in perhaps his most ridiculous denial of the night.
“In these types of games you need your keeper to come up with some big saves and Brendan did that,” Weides said. “He gave us every opportunity to win and advance to the title game. It was a top-notch performance. He’s really playing at an all-conference level. All four of our seniors really played at a high level.”
Just seconds later the Broncos tied the score, 1-1, when Shane Davidson played a cross into the box where Tautz headed in a ball that gave a diving Buchanan little chance.
It was Julian Amaya’s goal that put the powerful Broncos in unfamiliar territory. In the 13th minute, Amaya got loose on a breakaway after intercepting a pass, putting himself one-on-one with Alex Guyer, one of the nation’s top goalkeepers. Amaya slotted it past him for his fourth goal of the season. For the first time all year when up against a GPAC opponent, Hastings trailed at halftime.
The Bulldogs missed an opportunity to extend their lead to 2-0 when Guyer flashed with his biggest save. He dove to his right to deny a penalty kick from senior Rajan Kooner in the 62nd minute. The PK came after junior Gideon Soenksen drew a Hastings foul in the box.
Concordia spent much of the second half simply trying to fend off a Bronco team that played with increased urgency. Hastings outshot the Bulldogs, 14-3, after halftime (24-7 for the game), but it seemed a Concordia defender such as Justin Lawrie or Sean Doran would surface at just the right time to disrupt the Bronco attack. Either that or Buchanan’s instincts and quick reflexes resulted in another save.
The icy-cool conditions may have contributed to a slow offensive start. Neither team registered a shot until Buchanan made an 11th-minute save on a Julius Goedhart strike.
The temperature rested at 17 degrees at kickoff on Tuesday, but a brisk wind made it feel bone-chillingly bitter. The end result didn’t feel much better, but Weides sees no reason for his players to hang their heads.
Said Weides, “I’m really proud of their efforts.”
Hastings has advanced to Friday’s GPAC title game. The Broncos will host second-seeded Midland (12-7-1).