SEWARD, Neb. – Four days after a rivalry victory at York College, the Concordia University Men’s Soccer team found itself in a rough-and-tumble affair with a perennially strong Bellevue University opponent that was ranked No. 12 in the 2022 NAIA preseason coaches’ poll. The Bulldogs defended corner kick after corner kick and survived to claim a 1-0 victory in their 2022 home debut. Carlos Orquiz broke the scoreless draw with a penalty kick goal in the 84th minute.
The win over the 2021 national qualifying Bruins helps legitimize a 4-1 start for Head Coach Jason Weides’ squad. The only blemish on the record so far is a 1-0 defeat against Corban University (Ore.), currently ranked No. 25 in the NAIA.
“We joked with the team that we defended 48 corner kicks today – it felt like that,” Weides said. “I think what we learned about this team is that we can get better throughout games. We really weren’t very good in the first half minus the defensive side of the ball and the transition side of the ball. With the ball, we struggled. We were maybe a little overhyped, a little tense, and Bellevue came out flying. They were preseason No. 12 in the nation for a reason. In the second half, we came alive and got better throughout the game. The guys made some good strides at halftime.”
By the end of 45 minutes, Concordia had mustered only a single shot and was forced to stave off 12 corner kicks from Bellevue. The Bulldogs kept it at a 0-0 stalemate thanks in large part to a back line that included Max Bisinger and Adrian Wambua at the center back spots and Iker Casanova and Braden Spath at left and right back, respectively. In goal, Federico Simonetti made six saves and earned his second shutout of 2022.
It eventually came down to Orquiz putting away the PK with 6:43 remaining in the match. Initially, it looked as though Concordia was going to be awarded a corner kick before the official signaled for a PK, following some discussion. Orquiz drilled it for his second goal of the season, setting off a celebration in the southwest corner of the field.
The Bulldogs were on the wrong end of plenty of decisions like this one in 2021 – but not this time. Said Orquiz, “Last year was something similar with a one-goal difference in games, but I feel like this year is different. We’re taking more advantage of our opportunities and we’re defending really hard in the back. That’s massive to get the win and keep a clean sheet.”
Around 70th minute, Concordia narrowly missed out on a goal. Miguel Navarro had put away the deflection made by the Bellevue keeper on a quick strike in the box. However, the goal was negated due to offside. Just seconds later, Daniel Campbell’s shot missed just wide left on another prime scoring opportunity.
The Bruins (2-4-1) likely walked away feeling they missed some of their own chances, considering they had 17 corner kicks and put eight shots on goal. Leading striker Oumar Sissok (17 goals in 2021) was limited to one shot total for the match. Bellevue hasn’t gotten out to the start it would have wanted, in part due to a challenging nonconference schedule.
“Bellevue’s a good team and we’re going to face other good teams,” Weides said. “This prepares us for what those are like. Whether it’s the prettiest game in the world or the ugliest game, you have to be willing to battle and scrap and win second balls. We learned today that if we do the little things, we can probably compete with anybody.”
The Bulldogs will be right back at home on Tuesday to host Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference opponent Bethany College (1-2) with kickoff set for 8 p.m. CT. The two programs last met in 2014 when Concordia edged the Swedes, 1-0, in Seward.