SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s soccer team fell victim to prolific goal scorer Daniel Whitehall in the early going and never recovered on a breezy Wednesday night (Oct. 3) inside Bulldog Stadium. High-powered and fourth-ranked Hastings came away with a 2-0 win in a rematch of the last three GPAC tournament title games.
Slow starts have bitten Concordia at times in conference play. Eleventh-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad is now 5-4-1 overall and 1-2-1 in GPAC play.
“You take away the first three minutes and we played a pretty good game,” Weides said. “You kind of scratch your head about why we started so slow those first three minutes. You’d think a goal in the first minute would give a wakeup call, but it took two for us. We played really well overall after that. I think it was a really competitive game.”
The statistics would back up Weides’ statement. It’s just not wise to dig a hole when playing the Broncos (8-2, 5-0 GPAC), who silenced the Bulldogs with a Whitehall goal less than 40 seconds after the opening whistle. Under three minutes later, Whitehall crossed a pass from right to left to set up Fernando Lisboa’s goal. That was an early backbreaker for a Concordia squad that also found itself facing deficits of 2-0 at Morningside and 1-0 versus Dordt last week.
The Bulldogs answered the bell the rest of the way from a defensive standpoint. Whitehall missed the frame on his final four shots of the game. Concordia even outshot Hastings, 13-12, while limiting the Broncos to only four shots on goal. Senior Jack Bennett made his return from injury and made a pair of saves.
The Bulldogs just couldn’t take advantage of their chances. Junior Matthew Ho and freshman Carlos Orquiz were active on the attack, combining to take seven shots, including several near misses. It was the first time this season that Concordia had been shut out. Bronco keeper Kieran Harrison made seven saves.
Defensively, this was something the Bulldogs can build upon. The back line of center backs Angel Alvarez and Evan Hayden and outside backs Derek Eitzmann and Garrett Perry held their own when faced with one of the top 10 goal scoring teams in the NAIA. Weides can feel his squad getting closer to being the type of high level GPAC contender he envisions from year-to-year.
“We’re not a million miles away,” Weides said. “This game is evident of that. We’re playing the No. 4 team in the nation and it’s a good battle. Without the first three minutes it’s a great contest. We have to learn to play 90 minutes instead of 87 and we’d be in good shape, but it’s little things. I do think we’re taking strides towards becoming the team that we want to be.”
Like many Concordia-Hastings get togethers, this one was a physical battle. The Bulldogs’ 2015 GPAC championship game upset at Hastings seemed to fan the flames of this conflict that has become a barometer game for Concordia.
Another night game inside Bulldog Stadium will take place on Saturday when the Bulldogs welcome to town new GPAC soccer member Presentation (0-11, 0-6 GPAC). Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. CT. The Saints are coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to the University of Mary.