Wokutch's late heroics lift Bulldogs to comeback win

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 24, 2022 in Men's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – With time running out on a week that had been frustrating to that point, Ryan Wokutch emerged as the hero. He found the back of the net twice in the final six-and-a-half minutes as Concordia University Men’s Soccer came from behind to claim a 2-1 win over Northwestern inside Bulldog Stadium on Saturday (Sept. 24). The Bulldogs had trailed for the entirety of the second half before Wokutch’s goal off the free kick from Carlos Orquiz tied the score.

This was a much better feeling than the one felt three days earlier when Concordia suffered a 4-3 loss at Dordt in a contest marred by uncharacteristic gaffes. This was the type of bounce-back win the Bulldogs (7-2, 2-1 GPAC) needed in order to be in the hunt as a top-four team in the league.

“Credit to Ryan for taking those chances and the team for fighting and staying into it,” Weides said. “It’s another game where we kind of gifted our opponent a goal. I’m sure Northwestern could have found a goal themselves within that game. They’re a good team. They won the league last year for a reason. They gave us a great challenge today. I was impressed to see our guys’ resolve and response. It truly was a championship response we saw from the team. It was a very important three points for us.”

Wokutch’s two goals came less than three minutes apart as he stole this one away from the Red Raiders. The goals came in two very different forms. First, in the 84th minute, Orquiz volleyed a free kick into the box that Wokutch managed to redirect past goalkeeper Ezekiel Foltz. Roughly two-and-a-half minutes later, the native of Paola, Kan., showed off his track speed in outrunning a pair of Northwestern defenders for a ball led into the box by Max Bisinger. Wokutch then slid the ball to the right of a flat-footed Foltz.

In a blink of an eye, the Bulldogs had erased some of the first 80-plus minutes of attacking misfires. Going back to the 28th minute, Concordia had conceded a weak goal that came due to some defender-goalkeeper miscommunication. The Red Raiders’ Niklas Fitter was the beneficiary. The Bulldogs led the final shot count, 15-6 (6-4 in shots on goal), though Northwestern (2-4-3, 1-1-1 GPAC) had more corners, 8-3.

This will be one Wokutch won’t soon forget. This may be one Concordia looks back to as a key point in its season when a near defeat was flipped into a win in the waning moments.

Said Wokutch in response to the closing minutes, “A lot of emotions. I came back on the field with a couple minutes left and I knew we needed at least one goal. The opportunity arose and we got the one goal and continued to get a second one. I just found the extra energy at the end to help the team out as much as I could and get the win.”

In goal, Gabriel Mendoza started for the Bulldogs and made three saves. Weides used five subs off the bench in an unseasonably hot late September day in Seward. While Concordia feels like this one could have easily been a clean sheet, the response to adversity was a positive development.

Said Weides, “We were most focused on not talking about what our response was going to look like, but to show it. We just had to bounce back. We didn’t watch any game film from Dordt. It was, ‘hey, we have to move on.’”

The Bulldogs now look forward to playing at Midland (5-1-2, 1-1-1 GPAC) at 7:15 p.m. CT on Wednesday. Heedum Field in Fremont, Neb., will serve as the location. Concordia will try to avenge last season’s 1-0 home loss to the Warriors.