SEWARD, Neb. – Senior forward Aaron Skipworth and the Bulldog attack went scoreless on Saturday night as Concordia closed the regular season with a 2-0 loss to visiting Northwestern. Despite three more shots than the Red Raiders, Concordia (11-7, 4-5 GPAC) was unable to capitalize on several good looks on frame and never could dig out of an early hole on senior night.
“We started a little slow,” Bulldog head coach Jason Weides said. “It was really just the opening five or 10 minutes where we just didn’t seem to be awake. We didn’t have the energy that Northwestern did to start the game. Unfortunately that really proved to be the big difference.”
The game had barely kicked off when Northwestern midfielder Gabriel Gonclaves drilled the back of the net 41 seconds into the contest. From that point on the game was a dead heat as the Bulldogs began to play with greater energy and created more chances.
“I thought we worked back into it and got better through the first half,” Weides said. “We started to create chances of our own, started to hold the ball better and started to defend better. In the second half we did some good things, too. It was one of those things where we just couldn’t get that first goal.”
Skipworth and junior forward Nathan Douglas showed visible frustration on near misses throughout the contest. Skipworth had a couple great opportunities to take sole possession of the school career goals record.
“I had two good chances – one in each half – and I think the keeper made two good saves,” Skipworth said. “I felt like he played well. I put them on frame and he made saves.”
One of those chances came with just under 12 minutes remaining in the first half when Skipworth broke free from the Northwestern back line and maneuvered up the right side of the field. He then fired a shot that forced the Red Raiders’ Austin Stoesz to dive to his right to maintain Northwestern’s 1-0 lead.
The Red Raiders’ Travis Sytsma then provided the final margin in the 69th minute when he found himself in the right spot after a scramble on a penalty kick. Sytsma tapped into the net to give Northwestern (11-5-1, 6-3-1 GPAC) more than enough room to breathe on this night.
The loss likely marks the final game at Bulldog Stadium for Skipworth and the six other Concordia seniors (barring a GPAC Championships matchup with eighth-seeded Dakota Wesleyan in the title game). Skipworth will always look back fondly at his time in front of the home fans.
“Most of all it’s been a good experience for me,” Skipworth said. “It’s been a good series out here on the turf – a lot of good memories. I’m not looking at it as a downfall. It’s one of the greatest places in the world. I’m just happy to have been here that amount of time.”
Saturday’s game was the third time the Bulldogs have been shut out this season. They fell to 4-4 at home this season following an 8-0 mark at Bulldog Stadium in 2011.
Concordia now looks forward to a new season when it plays Thursday, Nov. 1 in the opening round of the GPAC Championships. The seventh-seeded Bulldogs will be at second-seeded Midland in a rematch of Concordia’s Oct. 9 loss in Fremont. Game time is set for 2 p.m.