SEWARD, Neb. – Two familiar in-state nonconference foes are on the docket this week for the Concordia University Men’s Soccer team, which returned from a 3-2 road win over Tabor College (Kan.) in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday. A little rest and recovery and the Bulldogs will be ready to tangle with York College on Tuesday before finally coming back to Bulldog Stadium to host 12th-ranked Bellevue University on Saturday. Head Coach Jason Weides’ squad carries a 2-1 record into the week.
Tuesday, Sept. 6 at York (2-2), 5:30 p.m.
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Saturday, Sept. 10 vs. No. 12 Bellevue (2-3), 1 p.m.
By the numbers
· The game at Tabor got a little hairier than Weides would have wanted, but the Bulldogs held onto the lead in a frantic final 10 minutes of the game late on Saturday night. Concordia had mounted a seemingly commanding 3-0 lead when Carlos Orquiz converted a penalty kick in the 68th minute. Teammates Miguel Navarro (35’) and Dominic Abdel-Ahad (67’) also got on the board in the victory. The Bluejays made things tense down the stretch thanks to a goal apiece in the 75th and 80th minutes. No additional shots were recorded for either team the rest of the game. The Bulldogs held advantages in total shots, 14-11, and shots on goal, 5-4.
· Not unusual for early in the season, Weides has tinkered with his starting 11, which has been slightly different each time out. The following seven players have started all three games: Dominic Abdel-Ahad, Max Bisinger, Iker Casanova, Jarrod Henson, Carlos Orquiz, Isaiah Shaddick and Adrian Wambua. A consistently reliable force at center back, Casanova was credited with an assist last week and has twice been named Second Team All-GPAC.
· Speaking of tinkering, Concordia has used a different keeper each time out. The competition has been so close that it has spilled into the regular season. Federico Simonetti started game one, followed by Callum Goldsmith in game two and Gabriel Mendoza in game three. Simonetti was recognized as the GPAC Defensive Player of the Week on Aug. 30 after he made three saves in the shutout win over Northwest University (Wash.) in the season opener. Other than the late hiccup at Tabor, Concordia has played strong defensively.
· Some storylines are beginning to develop inside the GPAC with every team having played at least one game. Only three teams in the league have yet to endure a loss: Hastings (1-0), Mount Marty (3-0-1) and Midland (2-0-1). Incredibly, Doane has already played six times and is 0-6. One of the goals for the Bulldogs is to get back into the top four of the conference and earn the right to host a GPAC tournament quarterfinal game.
· Cumulatively, the Bulldogs have outscored their foes, 4-3, with one goal apiece from Abdel-Ahad, Navarro, Orquiz and Ryan Wokutch. In terms of shots, Abdel-Ahad has been most active on the attack with eight shots. Next in line is Wokutch with five. Concordia may not end up having one major goal scorer emerge, but it can be successful with a by-committee approach. The program last had a double-digit goal scorer in 2017 when three players accomplished that feat: Micah Lehenbauer (12), Lewis Rathbone (12) and Marcelo Hernandez (11).
Concordia has played York every season of Weides’ 15-year head coaching tenure with the exception of 2020. Weides has gone 13-1 in the series with the lone loss occurring at York in 2018. The Panthers are off to a 2-2 start with wins over Doane and Presentation. The Panthers finished last season at 9-9-1 and fell by a 4-2 score at Concordia. Head Coach Tyler Wilt is in his second year in the program.
Bellevue has been a perennially strong program and was a national qualifier again in 2021. The Bulldogs will be attempting to knock off the Bruins for the first time since 2019. Bellevue stands at 2-3 with wins over Doane and Kansas Wesleyan University. One of the defeats came to GPAC member Morningside, 2-1. A player to watch out for is Oumar Sissoko, who put away 17 goals last season. Head Coach Mark Heath-Preston is in his seventh season.
The Bulldogs will be at home again on Sept. 13 to host Bethany College (Kan.) for the final game of the nonconference regular season slate. GPAC play will then get started with a road trip to Mount Marty on Sept. 17.