2016 Men's Soccer

11-7-2 Overall | 6-3 GPAC | Season Stats


Head Coach - Jason Weides (9th year)

Graduate Assistant Coach - Nico Luque

Assistant Coach - Nick Holmes

Graduate Assistant Goalkeeper Coach - Dan Ball

Season preview: 2016 Concordia men's soccer
August 19, 2016

Head coach: Jason Weides (70-68-15, eight years)
2015 Record: 11-7-3 overall; 4-4-2 GPAC (6th); GPAC tournament champion; national tournament qualifier
Key Returners: MF Carlos Acosta; F Toby Down; D Aries Fung; GK Mark Horsburgh; F Tyler Jensen; MF Micah Lehenbauer; MF Lewis Rathbone
Key Losses: MF Julian Amaya; D Mark Anderson; D Mark Campbell; D Sean Doran; D Justin Lawrie; MF Marcos Leon; MF Jake Sells; MF Gideon Soenksen; F Dean Stevens
2015 GPAC All-Conference: Julian Amaya (second team); Justin Lawrie (second team); Lewis Rathbone (second team); Mark Campbell (honorable mention); Gideon Soenksen (honorable mention)

Season Outlook
For the first time in program history, Concordia men’s soccer enters a season as the defending GPAC tournament champions. Last season in head coach Jason Weides’ eighth year at the helm of the program, the Bulldogs caught fire down the stretch and ran to an improbable conference title. Behind a senior-laden group Concordia stunned conference heavyweight Hastings in the championship game and reached the national tournament for the first time ever.

That unprecedented glory was a long time coming for an outfit that went 4-14 the year prior to Weides’ promotion to head coach. Now the Bulldogs have won 53 games since the start of 2011 and have put together five-straight winning seasons for the first time since the 1980s. The culture has changed.

“You just look around and see the facilities that we have and the resources that we have. It’s allowed our program to take steps forward,” Weides said. “The culture of these guys is together and team first. When we first took over it was the world was against us and we were fighting against everybody to try and achieve success. Winning breeds winning and losing breeds losing. We finally developed that culture of winning. Now the upperclassmen are instilling these things in the newcomers when they come.”

That winning culture could be the key to keeping things humming after the graduation of a slew of integral pieces. Departed all-conference players such as Julian Amaya, Justin Lawrie, Mark Campbell and Gideon Soenksen were instrumental as leaders both on and off the field for the winningest four-year period in program history.

The backline will have to be completely rebuilt as all four starters, including the highly-regarded Lawrie, have moved on. Sure there are question marks, but the program has progressed to the point that no one feels panicked.

“We’re losing 13 seniors but I know the new guys coming for this fall and they’re pretty good,” said starting holding midfielder Carlos Acosta. “I think they’re going to be good additions to the team. We seniors are going to have to take control of the team and make it feel like home for the new guys. Everyone has the same goal. We have to try to create an environment for everyone to feel welcome.”

Acosta is the most experienced player returning having appeared in 51 games over the past three seasons. The native of Cali, Columbia, does the dirty work in the middle of the field and has great technical acumen. Plus he carries an air of confidence.

It’s Acosta’s roommate who brings perhaps the most intrigue and the potential to significantly elevate the team’s ceiling. A transfer from Evergreen Valley College (Calif.) and Ecuador native, Hernandez totaled 16 goals and 14 assists over 19 games at Evergreen in 2014 and adds sizzle as an attacking midfielder.

“He’s a dynamic player,” Weides said of Hernandez. “He’s the type of guy who can beat someone 1v1. He’s very tricky on the ball – great feints, great deception. He’s the type of guy who can at times maybe put the team on his back when things aren’t going as well. He can flash individual brilliance, but he’s a team player. I think he’s going to give us a cutting edge on the attack.”

Hernandez will have company on the attack. Concordia welcomes back each of its three players who shared the team’s goals lead in 2015 – juniors Toby Down and Micah Lehenbauer and sophomore Tyler Jensen. The season’s biggest thrill came via Jensen who came up with the lone goal in the GPAC championship win at Hastings. A second team all-conference pick in his first season as a Bulldog, Lewis Rathbone contributed two goals and six assists over 16 games a year ago.

In other words, there is no shortage of goal-scoring options. Now to shore up a backline that helped the Bulldogs limit opponents to an average of 1.24 goals per game last season. The good news is that budding goalkeeper Mark Horsburgh returns for his senior season. ‘Sparky,’ as his teammates call him, starred as one of the heroes of the GPAC tournament, during which Concordia did not surrender a single goal. Horsburgh also clinched the GPAC semifinal match with a successful penalty kick.

Now Horsburgh will see some unfamiliar faces directly in front of him. Sophomore Aries Fung started 15 games as a freshman and could see more minutes on the backline. Others who will compete for increased roles are the likes of senior Andrew Mussell, junior Dillon Hixson and sophomore Angel Alvarez. There’s also another talented Evergreen transfer on hand in Florian Caraballo, who hails from Spain.

“We have several defenders coming in who are guys we feel can impact our team immediately,” Weides said. “I think we’ll have a good blend of newcomers – some are freshmen, some are junior college transfers. Then we’ve got some returners. I think it will be a good combination. When you have a group of four seniors – they’re just all on the same page. It’s just going to take us a little while to get on the same page, but once we do I think it’s a really good group.”

The 2015-16 senior class, big on both quality and quantity, may have moved on, but the mindset it brought remains. As Acosta points out, Concordia has advanced a little bit further in the postseason each of the past few seasons. The Bulldogs bounced back from a 3-2 conference quarterfinal loss to Northwestern in 2013, reached the semifinals and suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss at Hastings in 2014 and then took home a trophy in 2015 by finally solving the powerhouse Broncos. Says Acosta, “We have more confidence in ourselves now.”

Concordia hopes the 2016 group resembles the 2015 squad that rattled off a late six-game unbeaten streak more so than the one that began the conference season at 2-4-1. A repeat won’t come easy as Weides cautions his players.

“We approach it the exact same way,” Weides said of the 2016 season. “We’re going to have to convince our players that we approach it the same. I think we have some guys who think the trophy is going to be sent to us already. That’s not the case. We just approach it one game at a time. I think we have realistic goals and expectations to push forward and raise the bar a little bit. We feel like that’s attainable.”

Season Opener: The Bulldogs officially open the 2016 season on Aug. 31 when York College invades Bulldog Stadium for an 8 p.m. kickoff. Fans can get a glimpse at this year’s squad on Saturday (Aug. 20) when the current Concordia team takes on a squad of alums. The alumni game is slated to begin at 4 p.m.

Men’s soccer to make first appearance since national tourney
August 30, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – The last time the Concordia University men’s soccer team played an official game was at the opening round of the 2015 national tournament. The Bulldogs are finally ready to return to the field this week with a pair of home games. Concordia opens up 2016 by hosting York College (1-0) at 8 p.m. on Wednesday and Graceland University (1-0) at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

While several key seniors from last year’s GPAC tournament championship team have graduated, head coach Jason Weides welcomes in an impactful group of newcomers that includes transfer Marcelo Hernandez (Quito, Ecuador) and freshman Carlos Ferrer (Chula Vista, Calif.). Their arrival combined with the return of the likes of Carlos Acosta, Tyler Jensen and Lewis Rathbone mean the Bulldogs expect to extend their active streak of five-consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins overall.

While Concordia has produced a solid home mark of 10-5-2 over the past two years, it would love to duplicate its Bulldog Stadium success from 2011 when it went a perfect 8-0 at its friendly surroundings. The 2015 Bulldogs made their tournament run by bouncing each of the GPAC’s top three seeds – all on the road. Concordia hopes to better protect its home turf in 2016 in order to secure a home GPAC tournament game in November.

York has been a long-time rival for the Bulldogs. Last season Concordia trounced the Panthers by a 7-2 score in a contest played in York, which finished 2015 with an overall record of 9-8. On the other hand, Graceland, a member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference, completed last year with an 8-10 record. Graceland topped Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.), 2-0, in its 2016 season opener.

Both of this week’s games will be shown live on the Concordia Sports Network.

New weapons showcased in season-opening win
August 31, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – For the second-straight season, the Concordia University men’s soccer team put York College on its heels in a battle between longtime rivals. Marcelo Hernandez led off the night’s goal scoring in the eighth minute, sparking the Bulldogs to a comfortable 4-0 victory inside Bulldog Stadium in the season opener for Concordia.

Now in his ninth season as head coach, Jason Weides has led the defending GPAC tournament champion Bulldogs to season-opening victories in three-straight seasons.

This 2016 group has a much different look to it than the one that celebrated a GPAC title last November. Five newcomers, including Hernandez, were part of Wednesday’s starting lineup.

“It was overall positive,” Weides said. “We’re still trying to figure ourselves out. There are a lot of new components and a lot of new faces. It’ll take us a little time to get all on the same page. Honestly we were just looking forward to playing someone besides ourselves. We’re not championship level today, but overall it was a good first step.”

A transfer from Evergreen State, Hernandez made his long-awaited return to the playing field on Wednesday after having sat out the 2015 campaign. As part of a brilliant sequence, Micah Lehenbauer played a touch behind his back to Hernandez, who calmly slotted the ball past goalkeeper Ighor Tavares. Roughly 10 minutes later freshman Carlos Ferrer emerged with the first goal of his collegiate career.

Ferrer and Hernandez figure to make an instant impact up front for a potentially dynamic attack.

“I think we have a lot of attacking options,” Weides said. “I don’t think scoring goals will be a problem for us. Those two guys are big additions and we have a lot of other guys like Matthew Ho. Even some of our returners are really playing at a good level like Micah Lehenbauer. They’re really hitting on all cylinders.”

Lehenbauer added to the fun with a 32nd-minute goal to make it a cushy 3-0 halftime advantage. Then in the 50th minute, senior defender Andrew Mussell capitalized on a rare opportunity and headed in his first career goal from 10 yards out.

Mussell is now a leader for a team that said goodbye to a large group of seniors following the 2015 campaign.

“It’s definitely weird having so many seniors drop off the face of the planet,” Mussell said. “You could see from day one when we started our training two weeks ago that we were itching for this and we were ready. We’re here to be a team, not 11 individual players on the field. We’re here as one unit.”

Concordia got the better of York in the shot count, 13-6. Eight different Bulldogs took at least one shot for a well-rounded attack. In goal, Weides employed both Mark Horsburgh (57 minutes) and Nick Varilek (33 minutes). They were needed for just two combined saves

The Bulldogs will continue play from Seward on Saturday when Graceland University (Iowa) pays a visit to Bulldog Stadium. The action is set to get started at 8 p.m. Graceland owns a record of 1-0 having defeated Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.), 2-0, on Aug. 27.


Last-second bid denied
September 4, 2016

SEWARD, Neb. – For a brief moment, the Concordia University men’s soccer team believed it had forced an overtime period with visiting Graceland University (Iowa). But Lewis Rathbone’s bicycle kick goal was judged to have occurred after the horn had sounded. Time ran out on the Bulldogs, who dropped a 1-0 decision to the Yellowjackets in Seward on Saturday night.

The latest outing provided a good measuring stick for Concordia, which was up against a Graceland side that already owns a win over the NAIA’s fourth-ranked team. The Bulldogs are now 1-1 on the young campaign.

“We can play with really good teams,” said ninth-year head coach Jason Weides. “Graceland’s a good team. It just shows that we can get better and we have a ways to go, because I think we’re good enough to get results against good teams like this. I was really impressed with our guys’ competitive spirit to get back into the game after giving up a goal.

“The last-second equalizer was called off just milliseconds after the horn sounded, unfortunately. It was a really good fight. It showed a lot of promise moving forward.”

The only goal that counted came in the 14th minute when Ryan Schlom deposited the ball into the back of the net. It was one of only four shots that the Yellowjackets put on frame on Saturday. Concordia more than doubled Graceland in shots (18-8).

Rathbone was particularly active for the Bulldogs. He led all players with six shots taken. Seven other Bulldogs recorded at least one shot. Like the Yellowjackets, Concordia managed to put just four of its strikes on frame. Goalkeeper Mitchell Hart received credit for a shutout.

Weides identified his team’s defensive pressing as an area that got better between games one and two of the 2016 season.

“I thought we did a much better job as a unit pressing and pressing a little bit higher up the field,” Weides said.

The Bulldogs will have a rare Monday contest this coming week. They will head to North Newton, Kansas, to take on Bethel College (0-2). Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. CT.


Bulldogs bounce back with win at Bethel
September 5, 2016

NORTH NEWTON, Kan. – There would be no hangover for the Concordia University men’s soccer team, which had to move on from a 1-0 defeat that featured a dramatic conclusion versus Graceland University two days earlier. In Labor Day action, the Bulldogs took care of business with a 2-0 victory over Bethel College (Kan.) in the first road trip of the 2016 season.

Ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad is now off to a 2-1 start. The latest outing was far from a thing of beauty, but it got the job done.

“I think they had the right mentality overall,” Weides said. “We just didn’t play with the urgency we needed to in the first half. I think the first half was 11 individuals playing instead of us playing as a team. The second half we combined a lot more and really moved the ball quick. When we played quickly, one-two touch combination play we looked really well.”

The scoring opened up on Monday with a goal from junior Lewis Rathbone, who nearly forced an overtime session in the loss to Graceland with a highlight-reel bicycle kick goal that was ruled to have come just after the horn sounded. This time it counted for Rathbone. The England native registered his third career goal as a Bulldog in the 15th minute.

Concordia found more breathing room early in the second half when Tyler Jensen got on the board in the 53rd minute with his first goal of the year and eighth of his career. It was plenty enough against a Thresher squad that managed only seven shots and is now 0-3 overall.

Despite retooling its entire backline, the Bulldogs have been airtight through three games, having surrendered just a single goal this season. Senior goalkeeper Mark Horsburgh, a big reason why Concordia ran through the 2015 GPAC tournament without allowing a goal, earned another shutout by making three saves on Monday. Two of those stopes came in the second half, making Weides and company sweat out the nonconference win.

“It wasn’t the prettiest game in the world, but we got the win,” Weides said. “Now we move onto the next.”

Carlos Ferrer, Hernandez and Rathbone each were credited with three shots apiece. Hernandez’s shot off the post set up Rathbone’s goal. Concordia ended up with 16 shots, including 11 on goal. Thresher keeper Kobi Russum made nine saves.

The Bulldogs return to action this weekend with a pair of neutral matches that will take place on the Hastings College campus. Concordia will take on Lyon College (Ark.) (2-2) at 1 p.m. on Friday and then Georgia Gwinnett (3-0-1) at 5 p.m. on Saturday.


Concordia records third shutout in draw with No. 24 Lyon
September 9, 2016

HASTINGS, Neb. – Underneath murky skies, the Concordia University men’s soccer team emerged from soggy Lloyd Wilson Field in Hastings, Neb., with a 0-0 double overtime draw while up against 24th-ranked Lyon College (Ark.) on Friday afternoon. The drawn-out affair even featured two separate lightning delays that combined to span more than an hour in length.

Head coach Jason Weides’ squad has surrendered just a single goal through four games and now sports an overall record of 2-1-1. Friday’s contest marked Concordia’s first appearance in Hastings since defeating the host Broncos in the 2015 GPAC championship game. It was also the last time the Bulldogs took on a ranked team.

“It’s a strong start for us defensively,” Weides said. “We’ve pressed well as a team. Guys are really committing, no matter what position they’re playing, to helping out the team defend. We have guys recovering really quickly and getting behind the ball. It’s more than the keeper. It’s more than just the backline. It’s everybody working as one.

“We’re pleased to see that working so well this early in the season, but we never like to see 0-0 games.”

Only 19 total shots (12-7 Concordia advantage) were taken over 110 minutes of action. Up top junior Marcelo Hernandez tested Scots keeper Gianni Santin the most with three shots on goal. However, many of the five saves made by Santin were of the routine variety. His first save came on a well-struck ball from Hernandez, who again showed off his technical flair.

Lyon (2-2-1) entered the contest having scored eight goals over its first four matches. The Bulldogs’ remade backline was up to the task against a side that went 14-4-1 in 2015. Formerly a forward, Toby Down has been moved to the center back and has complimented stellar keeper Mark Horsburgh nicely.

Horsburgh made two highlight worthy saves in regulation and then saved Lyon’s only shot attempt of the two overtime periods. Horsburgh was satisfied to come away with another clean sheet on Friday.

“We’ve been shuffling and trying different things,” Horsburgh said. “I think our team pressing has been improving. That’s something we highlighted this season that we needed to improve on. We’re seeing results.”

The inclement weather that included torrential downpours and flashes of lightning significantly impacted the flow of the game. The interruptions occurred late in the first half and then right before the first overtime was set to begin. The conditions played a role in the lack of scoring.

“That’s for both teams. It disrupts the rhythm and makes for a less than appealing game sometimes,” Weides said. “I think the thing that makes it tough to score goals on a day like this has less to do with the delays and more to do with the wet ground and the ball skipping on you. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to capitalize and put one in the back of the net.”

Action from Hastings continues on Saturday with another nonconference tilt. Concordia and Georgia Gwinnett College (3-0-1), a NAIA independent, will kick off at 5 p.m. The Grizzlies are coming off a 10-6-3 campaign in 2015.


Ferrer goal, suffocating defense carry Bulldogs
September 10, 2016

HASTINGS, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s soccer team has been nearly impenetrable this season. The trend continued on Saturday evening as the Bulldogs held Georgia Gwinnett College without a single shot on goal as part of a 1-0 victory in a game played on the campus of Hastings College.

Dating back to three clean sheets during its GPAC tournament title run, Concordia has held seven of its last nine opponents without a goal. Ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad ran its season record to 3-1-1 with the win over a Grizzlies squad that received votes in the NAIA preseason coaches’ poll.

“I wouldn’t have guessed that at this point,” said Weides of the fact that his team has surrendered just a single goal through five games. “I think we made some good adjustments at halftime and our guys played a lot better in the second half. They settled in. It was a really good performance top to bottom. We controlled the play in the second half. It was just a great team effort defending.”

That great defense made for a boring evening for goalkeeper Mark Horsburgh. He was kept clean by 18 other teammates who saw action. Weides used his bench more liberally a day after playing 110 minutes of soggy, scoreless soccer with 24th-ranked Lyon College (Ark.). A completely new-look backline continues to pass every test.

Strong defensive efforts were needed on a weekend in which Concordia went nearly 200 minutes before finding the back of the net. Finally, that goal came in the 85th minute when freshman Carlos Ferrer calmly went upper 90 to the far side after settling a ball played from Micah Lehenbauer.

“Then it was just about game management,” Weides said. “It wasn’t pretty the last five minutes. It was just seeing the game out. Overall I’m really pleased. I thought it was a great team effort, especially with having an overtime game the day before. It was a good weekend for us.”

The final shot count showed 11 apiece on Saturday. Concordia managed three shots on goal, two of which were saved by Lewis Sharpe. Lewis Rathbone led the Bulldogs with three shots.

The Bulldogs now enjoy a break in their schedule before returning to action on Monday, Sept. 19 with a short trek to take on Nebraska Wesleyan in Lincoln for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Prairie Wolves (2-0-1) are in their first season as a member of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, affiliated with NCAA Division III.


Behind Concordia's smashing new backline
September 14, 2016

Even head coach Jason Weides would have had a difficult time forecasting this start. It’s not that the solid 3-1-1 record produced by the Concordia University men’s soccer team is particularly shocking, it’s how it’s gotten there.

The 2015 Bulldogs rose to the status of GPAC tournament champions by rattling off three-straight postseason wins without allowing a single goal. They did so while employing a backline made up entirely of seniors. Those steady defenders, including all-conference performers Mark Campbell and Justin Lawrie, have graduated and moved on. Then more hits came immediately prior to the start of this school year when Weides learned that two potentially impactful defensive recruits would not be arriving on campus as expected.

“Honestly, I thought this would be a team that would need to win games 3-2,” Weides said. “I thought we would concede a few more goals early in the season until we really sorted out our pressing as a unit. It’s been a pleasant surprise.”

The results are more than just a pleasant surprise. Preposterously, Concordia is currently one of just three teams in the nation that has played five or more games with just a single goal allowed. It’s an especially impressive accomplishment considering the moving parts. It’s not as if the Bulldogs immediately settled on four defenders and let them go play.

Junior Toby Down went from a winger to playing mostly as an outside back this season. Weides has also used the likes of Angel Alvarez, Derek Eitzmann, Aries Fung, Andrew Mussell and transfers Luke Batters and Florian Caraballo along the backline at various times.

Down didn’t necessarily want to be a defender, something he’d never done in his life – except for a couple of rare instances last season. He tied a team high with seven goals in 2015.

“I came in expecting to be back at winger. They said we want to try you at left back,” Down said. “I said, ‘OK.’ Two days later I played left back and I wasn’t too happy with it at first. Coach was right. I wasn’t unhappy about playing it, I was unhappy because I didn’t know what I was doing.”

Down, known to be outspoken, personable and witty, has quickly grown into the position and has the potential to be an all-conference player at that spot, according to Weides. Down’s first experience as a defender in 2015 went well, but the native of Hong Kong joked with his coach, “It was probably a fluke.” Not true. His positional shift along with the infusion of Batters and Caraballo has provided a noticeable shot in the arm.

Batters came to Concordia by way of Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids, Minn. Batters was not immediately aware of the holes that existed in the backline. Unlike Down, Batters had been groomed as a defender since five years of age. It soon became obvious that his services would be welcome.

“We were a bit worried about defense. I was like, ‘I’m going to have to step up a bit,’” Batters said. “As soon as we got in the first game it was like practice. I could see that we had developed a bond and the communication was there. It’s not just the defense that is doing a good job. It’s all the way from the forwards that are getting back to defend to the midfielders helping out as well. It’s a good team effort.”

Like Batters, Caraballo came in ready to contribute. The native of Cordoba, Spain, attended Marshalltown Community College where he played on a national runner-up team in 2015. It’s just another illustration of the talent on hand.

The big question was how quickly that talent, which comes from many different nations, could mesh. They’re still working towards developing the same type of chemistry that made last year’s late-season run possible.

“I would argue that this might be the most technical backline that we’ve had,” Weides said. “But last year’s backline played with each other so much. They were so familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of each other. They were able to communicate really effectively with each other. There were very few mistakes made, because they were on the same page. Right now we still have to sort some of those things out.”

While it may take more time to develop a backline that consistently operates on the same wavelength, it’s difficult to argue with the results. The skills of one another have complimented each other in most obvious ways. And the chemistry? It’s progressed rapidly for a team with so many new faces and so many different cultural backgrounds.

“It’s just come together very well,” Down said. “We work off each other very well. The things that I’m not good at, Luke’s good at. The things that Luke’s not good at, Aries is good at. The thing Aries is not good at, Florian’s good at. Derek (Eitzmann) came in on Saturday and did an absolutely brilliant job. That’s what people are doing. Even if they’re getting short minutes, they’re coming on and doing the job.”

The dynamics in the locker room have changed as well without the one-of-kind Campbell. The 2016 team has forged a new identity. It’s still a playful team that shows up to volleyball matches and brings with it some of its soccer chants and cheers. Down says Dan Stephens “keeps the mood very light” and “acts like a little child” – but in a good way. Plus there’s always a flavorful mix of music playing in the locker room.

There are unique characters up and down the roster, but somehow it all works.

“I liked the way there were a lot of players from different countries,” Batters said. “We’ve got a kid from Ecuador, a lot of British lads, some people from Hong Kong and all around the world.

“In the backline we’re all great defenders and friends. We communicate a lot. We’ve spent every day with each other since preseason, so we’ve gotten to know each other from day one. We know each other’s strengths. We know each other’s weaknesses.”

While the backline deservedly grabs attention for stifling opposing attacks, it’s worth mentioning goalkeeper Mark Horsburgh, a hero from the 2015 GPAC tournament who made two highlight-worthy saves as part of last week’s double overtime draw with Lyon College. Up top, transfer Marcelo Hernandez brings an obvious flair and goal-scoring potential.

Down and company possess confidence that the pieces are in place to make this a more consistent start-to-finish season than a year ago.

“Our regular season was something that pushed us in the playoffs (last year),” Down said. “We were so upset with how our regular season ended that we were like, ‘All right, we’ve got to go and do this.’ This year coming in, we can’t wait for the playoffs. We want to go and smash it.”

One goal allowed in five games. That’s smashing it.

Lehenbauer, 'Dogs outshoot Wesleyan 21-10 in draw
September 19, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. – Despite a second Micah Lehenbauer goal that provided the Concordia University men’s soccer team with a 2-1 second-half lead, the Bulldogs ultimately settled for a 2-2 draw with former GPAC rival Nebraska Wesleyan in Lincoln on Monday night. The Prairie Wolves salvaged a tie via a free kick goal from Tyler Wood in the 76th minute.

Ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad is now 2-0-2 over its last four games and will take a 3-1-2 overall mark into the start of conference play this weekend.

“I felt like we controlled a lot of the action. I thought we gave 100 percent,” Weides said. “At the end of the day, that’s all I can ask of the guys. I feel like we’ve been really good on set pieces this year, but they scored both on set pieces tonight. Their kid had a really well-taken free kick.

“I was proud of the response and proud of the way we played, it’s just disheartening to walk away with a tie.”

Concordia more than doubled up Nebraska Wesleyan in the shot category, 21-10. The Bulldogs reacted well after surrendering a goal for the first time since Sept. 3 when Chris Elbracht found the back of the net in the 23rd minute. That ended a string of 388-straight scoreless minutes for Bulldog opponents.

Concordia didn’t flinch. Lehenbauer got loose early in the second half with goals in the 49th and 53rd minutes. His second goal was assisted by Tyler Jensen. Lehenbauer then played a ball that left goalkeeper Jack Nespor with little chance.

Lehenbauer accounted for four of his team’s 10 shots on frame. Jensen and Lewis Rathbone were also active, registering four shots apiece. The 21 shots were a season high for a Concordia team that has made its mark this season as a stingy defensive unit. Entering Monday, the Bulldogs had conceded just a single goal in five games.

In addition to holding a sizeable advantage in shots, Concordia also had six corner kicks to Nebraska Wesleyan’s one. Both teams managed one shot on goal throughout the 20 minutes of overtime action.

The Prairie Wolves (4-1-3) are in their first season as a member of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which is affiliated with NCAA Division III.

Saturday will end a three-week stretch between home games for the Bulldogs, who open up GPAC competition by hosting Northwestern (2-6, 0-0 GPAC). Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. CT. The Red Raiders were one of three teams Concordia knocked off during last season’s GPAC tournament title run.

Men's soccer welcomes Northwestern for GPAC opener
September 22, 2016

SEWARD, Neb. – In a rematch of a 2015 GPAC tournament quarterfinal game, the Concordia University men’s soccer team will welcome Northwestern (3-6, 0-0 GPAC) to Bulldog Stadium for a 3:30 p.m. CT kickoff. The two sides also opened up the 2015 conference schedule on Sept. 26 when the Bulldogs dropped a 1-0 decision in Orange City. Concordia returned the favor with a 1-0 victory in the GPAC tournament.

Ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad has fallen just once so far in nonconference play and sports an overall record of 3-1-2.  The Bulldogs have been one of the nation’s stingiest teams, limiting opponents to just three goals scored over the season’s first six games. Their average of 0.5 goals allowed per game ranks 13th best among all NAIA men’s soccer programs.

Offensively, the goals have been spread out amongst a wide range of players. Micah Lehenbauer, set up twice by teammate Tyler Jensen, scored a pair of goals in Monday’s 2-2 draw at Nebraska Wesleyan. Lehenbauer’s 10 goals since the start of the 2015 season are the most of any Bulldog. Lehenbauer is one of six players with at least one goal this season.

On the flip side, Northwestern has struggled to limit its opposition, surrendering 22 goals over its first nine games. On Wednesday the Red Raiders snapped a three-game losing streak by knocking off Buena Vista University (Iowa), 4-2. Northwestern also owns wins over Presentation College (S.D.) and Bethany College (Kan.).

Concordia has made only two appearances at home this season. It defeated York College, 4-0, to begin the 2016 season. The Bulldogs last played at home on Sept. 3 when they fell 1-0 to Graceland University (Iowa) in a game that included a controversial ending. Under Weides’ watch, Concordia’s most successful run through its home schedule came in 2011 when it went a perfect 8-0 inside Bulldog Stadium.

Saturday’s game will be shown live by the Concordia Sports Network. Concordia will play its first conference road game on Wednesday, Sept. 28 when it travels to play No. 8 Hastings (8-0) at 8 p.m. CT.

Hernandez stars in GPAC-opening win
September 24, 2016

SEWARD, Neb. – The floodgates opened up for Marcelo Hernandez on Saturday afternoon as the Concordia University men’s soccer team began conference play with a victory. Hernandez’s overtime goal lifted the Bulldogs to a 2-1 win over visiting Northwestern inside Bulldog Stadium.

Including last year’s conference tournament, ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ program owns an active seven-game unbeaten streak against GPAC opponents. The Bulldogs are now 4-1-2 overall and have surrendered a grand total of four goals all season.

“It was really nice to see us get one in overtime. The last couple years we’ve been in a lot of overtimes,” Weides said. “We don’t lose many of those, but we’ve tied a lot of those. It’s really good to be on the winning side.

“We had an opportunity to put it away. Northwestern snuck one in on us and tied it up. Our guys responded well.”

Concordia surrendered an 86th-minute equalizing goal to Hartrick Tarr, but responded appropriately in overtime. In a superb individual effort, Hernandez warded off a defender and tucked the ball just inside the left post for the golden goal with 8:36 showing on the clock.

It was just a matter of time before Hernandez began putting goals on the board. He entered the contest with one goal on the season, but has dazzled with technical flair up top. On Saturday he was a primary reason why Concordia held off the Red Raiders.

“It was a relief,” Hernandez said. “I tried shooting and shooting. It wasn’t going in. Finally the ball went in.”

The Bulldogs played stellar defensively save for the lone breakdown late in regulation. Northwestern mustered only six shots the entire afternoon.

Hernandez’s goals were assisted by Carlos Ferrer and Florian Caraballo. Coming off a two-goal game in Monday’s draw at Nebraska Wesleyan, Micah Lehenbauer took a team high five shots. The Bulldogs outshot the Red Raiders, 16-6.

Saturday’s contest was a rematch of a 2015 GPAC quarterfinal contest. Concordia knocked Northwestern out of postseason play with a 1-0 victory in Orange City, Iowa.

In a rematch of last year’s GPAC tournament championship game, the Bulldogs will play at No. 5 Hastings (9-0, 1-0 GPAC) on Wednesday. Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. CT from Lloyd Wilson Field. Concordia triumphed by a 1-0 score in last season’s title tilt in Hastings.


Bulldogs to return to Hastings for rematch of 2015 title game
September 27, 2016

SEWARD, Neb. – The most recent loss for Hastings men’s soccer? It occurred Nov. 12, 2015, when the underdog Bulldogs emerged from Lloyd Wilson Field with a 1-0 victory in the GPAC tournament championship game.

It marked the most significant victory in the history of the Concordia men’s soccer program, which made its first-ever national tournament appearance in 2015. With one incredible postseason run, the Bulldogs wiped away some of the frustrations that had built up during the regular season.

Since that game, the Broncos have recovered in impressive fashion. They’ve won each of their first nine games of 2016 under first-year head coach Aaron Champenoy, who replaced 17-year head coach Chris Kranjc.

Concordia and Hastings are now set to go head-to-head on Wednesday in Hastings. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT in a showdown that comes early in the conference season.

“I expect to see a fun game,” said head coach Jason Weides following Concordia’s 2-1 GPAC-opening victory over Northwestern on Sept. 24. “It’s going to be a very difficult game. They’re off to a great start this year – No. 5 in the nation and deservedly so. They’ve been playing really, really well. They don’t concede many goals and they score a lot of them. That’s a pretty good combination.”

This year’s Bulldogs are off to a better start than the 2015 team reached new heights. Concordia owns a mark of 4-1-2 and has allowed just four goals all season. The Bulldogs, who remade their entire backline after 2015, rank 12th amongst all NAIA men’s soccer programs in terms of fewest goals allowed per game (0.57). They will face their most challenging task yet in trying to hold down a Bronco attack that averages 3.2 goals per game.

On the flip side, Weides hopes his team can continue to improve in the goal-scoring department. The Bulldogs got an encouraging sign in their conference opener when junior Marcelo Hernandez broke out with a pair of goals. The transfer and native of Quito, Ecuador, possesses the ability to pepper the back of the net throughout conference play. He’s thrilled to be back on the field after waiting out the 2015 season.

“I love this university so it was easy to adapt,” Hernandez said last week. “Of course it was hard last year (sitting out). I just want to keep helping my team with whatever I have to do.”

This won’t be the first trip to Hastings this season for Concordia, which played two neutral matches at Lloyd Wilson Field back on Sept. 9-10. This journey west simply comes with more juice and more hype. Even this preseason, the Bulldogs were still buzzing about that chilly November night when it accomplished something very few had expected.

“It was just unbelievable,” said senior Carlos Acosta prior to the start of the 2016 season. “It’s something to be really proud of. We made history. We’re the first ones in the history of the program (to win the GPAC). That’s something to really love. I can’t even tell what I feel. It’s unbelievable.”

While Hastings will carry a nine-game winning streak into Wednesday’s action, Concordia boasts a streak of its own. The Bulldogs are unbeaten over their last seven games against GPAC opponents (5-0-2). During that stretch Concordia has given up only five total goals.

Wednesday provides the Bulldogs an opportunity to prove that last season’s win was no fluke.

“They have a lot of motivation,” Weides said of the Broncos. “Our guys have a lot of motivation, too. They really want to get back at us for last year so we’re expecting to see the best of them.”

Concordia drops tight tussle in rematch of 2015 GPAC title
September 28, 2016

HASTINGS, Neb. – In a rematch of the 2015 GPAC tournament championship game that featured one of the high-powered Hastings attack versus Concordia’s stifling defense, the GPAC favorite prevailed. Ranked fourth nationally, the Broncos managed a 1-0 victory at Lloyd Wilson Field despite being held to fewer than two goals for the first time this season.

Under the direction of first-year head coach Aaron Champenoy, Hastings is off to a 10-0 start that includes a pair of GPAC victories. Meanwhile, ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad now stands at 4-2-2 overall and 1-1 in league play.

“We’re not playing for a close game or moral victories, but there are more positives to take away from this game than negatives,” Weides said. “At the end of the day, we want to improve from game to game. I felt like we definitely improved from our last performance. Unfortunately, we fell a bit short.”

Concordia was not without its chances to equalize. Carlos Ferrer went upper 90 in the first half but was denied by Hastings keeper Joe White. In addition, Micah Lehenbauer missed wide left on a point-blank opportunity from inside the box promptly before the 65-minute mark. Then in the final minute, Hastings had to ward off a Marcelo Hernandez free kick from just outside the box and then a pair of Concordia corner kicks.

The contest’s only score came in the 53rd minute when Erik Tello notched his first goal of the season. He was an unlikely hero amongst a roster that includes the nation’s leading goal scorer, Daniel Whitehall. But on this night, Whitehall failed to add to his season goal count of 18. He missed on three shots, including two on goal. The Broncos ended the night with an 18-7 shot advantage. They came into play averaging more than three goals per game as a team.

“We followed the game plan defensively and were very organized,” Weides said. “Every player was committed to the defensive cause. We denied a lot of service into Whitehall. The only service he was getting was in the air.”

Up against the highest-ranked team on the schedule, Weides tightened up his use of substitutions while employing 13 players. Five of them took at least one shot. Marcelo Hernandez, who scored both Bulldog goals in the GPAC-opening win over Northwestern, was limited to two shots and none on frame.

Concordia had hoped to duplicate the upset it pulled off on Nov. 12, 2015, when it stunned Hastings with a 1-0 win in the GPAC championship game. That victory propelled the Bulldogs to the national tournament for the first time in program history.

The Bulldogs will be back on the road on Saturday when they head to Sioux City, Iowa, to take on Morningside (7-1-1, 1-1 GPAC). Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. from Elwood Olsen Stadium. On Wednesday evening the Mustangs toppled Briar Cliff, 3-1.

Concordia stifles Morningside attack in GPAC road win
October 1, 2016

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – A flurry of first-half goals provided plenty of breathing room for the Concordia University men’s soccer team, which used three different goal scorers on its way to a 3-0 win at Morningside inside Elwood Olsen Stadium in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday night. It marked the fourth-straight meeting with the Mustangs that has gone in the Bulldogs’ favor.

Ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad bumped its records to 5-2-2 overall and 2-1 in GPAC play. Concordia is now 6-1-2 over its last nine games against conference opponents.

“As a unit it was probably one of the more complete games we’ve had,” Weides said. “I thought we defended well against Hastings (Wednesday), but our pressing was a little bit better today. We sat back a little too much in our last game, so we were able to step up our pressing line. Outside of the first 10 minutes we pressed really well and made Morningside’s life really difficult. Morningside’s a good team and I think we really made it tough on them.”

The Mustangs (7-2-1, 1-2 GPAC) had lost just once all season entering the weekend. They also came into the night averaging more than 2.5 goals per game. Morningside just couldn’t create many chances while up against one of the nation’s top defending teams. The Bulldogs, who rank No. 13 nationally in terms of fewest goals allowed per game, stifled the Mustangs all night. Morningside took just four shots (two on goal).

After the early lull, Concordia put together a comfortable lead by halftime courtesy of goals from Marcelo Hernandez (26’), Lewis Rathbone (34’) and Aries Fung (41’). Assists were credited to Micah Lehenbauer and Matthew Ho. Hernandez has now scored three of his four goals in GPAC play while Fung got on the board for the first time this season. Their efforts allowed Weides to go deeper into the bench as the night wound down.

It was just the response Weides had hoped for following a 1-0 defeat three days earlier to undefeated and fourth-ranked Hastings.

“We just want our guys to understand that every game is worth three points,” Weides said. “You have to go out and compete every game. We wanted to be better than we were our last game, and we did that.”

The Bulldogs have now shut out five of their first nine opponents and have yet to surrender more than two goals in a single game. Concordia’s foes have managed a grand total of five goals and have averaged only 8.6 shots per game.

The Mustangs’ only previous loss was a 5-0 defeat at Midland. They had carried an unblemished 6-0-1 mark into the start of conference action.

The Bulldogs will step outside of the conference on Wednesday when they travel to take on Bellevue University. Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. CT from Bellevue Soccer Club. The Bruins (4-6-2) have not played since a 3-2 win over Briar Cliff on Sept. 24. Bellevue was ranked 17th in the preseason, but has since dropped out of the rankings.

Bulldogs drop battle of 2015 national qualifiers
October 5, 2016

BELLEVUE, Neb. – In a matchup between a pair of teams that qualified for the 2015 national tournament, host Bellevue University pulled away from the Concordia University men’s soccer team by going on the attack. The Bruins burned one of the nation’s stingiest defensive teams by a final score of 4-1 at Bellevue Soccer Complex on Wednesday afternoon.

The contest was stark contrast from the previous outing for head coach Jason Weides’ squad, which was coming off a 3-0 victory at Morningside three days earlier. The Bulldogs now sit at 5-3-2 overall.

“I think it was mostly our mentality,” Weides said of Wednesday’s loss. “We need to approach every game the same. I think we got in the mindset that we won a couple and we were feeling pretty good. Our last performance was really good. We want to see us take a step forward every game, and this game we did not take a step forward. You have to show up every day with a workmanlike attitude.”

Bellevue (5-6-2) recorded each of its four goals over the final 62 minutes of action. Early on, neither team got much going forward on the attack. There were only four combined shots over the first 20 minutes of play. Concordia nearly took a 1-0 lead when Carlos Ferrer tried to curl in a sharply angled shot that crossed into the box from left to right and struck the right post. The Bruins pounced with their first goal in the 29th minute by Daniel Coupland.

The opening of the second half was rough for the Bulldogs, who continually played with fire before Rob Smith ignited a goal-scoring splurge by the home team. Third and fourth goals were contributed by Andres Blanco and then Copeland once again, via penalty kick. With the game already out of reach, Carlos Acosta finally put Concordia on the board with a penalty kick goal in the 76th minute.

Led by Coupland, Bellevue nearly doubled up Concordia in shots (19-10). Bulldog opponents had averaged fewer than nine shots per game over the season’s first nine matches. Concordia had also not surrendered more than two goals in a single contest this season.

Bellevue carried a bit of a misleading record into Wednesday’s action. After reaching the national tournament each of the last three season, the Bruins have challenged themselves this year against five teams who were either ranked or receiving votes at the time of the game.

The Bulldogs return to conference play on Saturday when they welcome Mount Marty (3-7, 0-2 GPAC) to Seward as part of homecoming festivities on the Concordia campus. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT from Bulldog Stadium. The Lancers were in action Wednesday afternoon versus Northwestern.

Men's soccer hosts Mount Marty for homecoming
October 7, 2016

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s soccer team will attempt to flush Wednesday’s performance when it returns to action on Saturday as part of homecoming weekend on campus. The Bulldogs host Mount Marty at 8 p.m. CT to top off homecoming.

Ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad is 2-1 in conference action and 5-3-2 overall. Concordia is coming off a 4-1 loss at Bellevue University on Wednesday. In their most recent GPAC contest, the Bulldogs shut out Morningside, 3-0.

On the other hand, Mount Marty (2-10, 0-4 GPAC) has been outscored by a combined total of 47-1 in its four GPAC contests. In last season’s meeting, Concordia handled the Lancers by a 10-1 score. That game was part of a recent nine-game stretch during which the Bulldogs are 6-1-2 when playing against conference opponents.

The performance in this week’s loss at Bellevue was a departure from what Concordia had shown through the season’s first nine games. The Bulldogs had allowed a grand total of just five goals all season before surrendering four to the Bruins. Despite the defensive struggles on Wednesday, Concordia ranks 29th nationally in terms of fewest goals allowed per game (0.9).

Offensively, the Bulldogs are still searching for a breakout performance. Their leading goal scorer is Marcelo Hernandez, who has tallied three of his four goals in conference play. Eight different Bulldogs have combined to score the team’s 15 goals this season.

Saturday’s game will be carried live by the Concordia Sports Network.

Jensen and company party at Mount Marty goal
October 8, 2016

SEWARD, Neb. – Sophomore Tyler Jensen recorded his second career hat trick in leading a homecoming party that congregated at the Mount Marty goal. The Concordia University men’s soccer team sent the visiting Lancers back home with an 11-0 defeat on Saturday night inside Bulldog Stadium.

It was a nice response to a 4-1 loss at Bellevue University three days earlier for ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad. Concordia is off to a 3-1 start in conference play for the second time in four seasons. It is now 6-3-2 overall.

“One of the things we were looking for was for the team that showed up tonight would beat the team that showed up on Wednesday,” Weides said. “I think we did a good job of doing that. I thought we started strong. It was just a good team performance. Whether they started or came off the bench, everybody contributed in a great way.”

Jensen pushed his season goal count to four by rattling each of his goals off less than 28 minutes into the contest. He began the onslaught with a fourth-minute goal before things quickly got out of hand. Carlos Ferrer and Micah Lehenbauer added a pair of goals apiece and four others had exactly one goal: Matthew Ho, Ray Villegas, Jonathan Dominguez and Dan Stephens.

Concordia outshot struggling Mount Marty (2-10, 0-4 GPAC), 29-3. The Bulldogs peppered goalkeeper Renzo Stainer with 18 shots on frame.

No matter the opponent, a three-goal game always feels good.

“It was just unreal. My family’s here. They got to see it,” said Jensen, a native of Renton, Wash. “It was really good to see that.”

Twenty-six different players saw action, including three goalkeepers for the Bulldogs. Mark Horsburgh relinquished his spot in goal after 32 minutes. Concordia ran off nine goals before 40 minutes had passed as part of the blowout.

Jensen was especially efficient with his shots. He needed only four shots to find the back of the net three times. Ferrer took a team high five shots. Fifteen Bulldogs fired off at least one shot.

The Bulldogs will get another crack at a nationally-ranked opponent when No. 22 Midland (10-2-1, 3-1 GPAC) invades Seward on Wednesday. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. CT. It will be a rematch of last year’s GPAC semifinal that ended with Concordia celebrating victory in a penalty kick shootout.

Men's soccer gets shot at ranked Midland on Wednesday
October 11, 2016

SEWARD, Neb. – The level of difficulty ramps up on Wednesday when the Concordia University men’s soccer team hosts No. 23 Midland (10-2-1, 3-1 GPAC) in a match slated for 8 p.m. CT inside Bulldog Stadium. It will be a rematch of a 2015 GPAC tournament semifinal game. Then on Saturday, Concordia will travel to play Dordt (5-7, 1-2 GPAC) in a matchup set for 3:15 p.m. CT.

For the second time in four seasons, head coach Jason Weides’ squad is off to a 3-1 start in GPAC play. Over the Bulldogs’ previous 10 games versus GPAC opponents, they own a record of 7-1-2 with the lone defeat coming at fourth-ranked Hastings on Sept. 28. That 10-game stretch included the conference semifinal meeting between Concordia and Midland, which went to a penalty kick shootout that saw the Bulldogs prevail.

Midland is the first ranked opponent to visit Bulldog Stadium this season. The Warriors will test Concordia’s top-notch defense. Midland has tallied 45 goals over 13 games and ranks 10th in the nation in terms of goals scored per game. Four Warriors have scored five or more goals in 2016. Ali Sodal leads the way with 14 goals. He’s also contributed five assists. Like the Bulldogs, the Warriors’ only conference defeat came at Hastings.

Dordt entered this week having not played a conference game since a 2-1 loss at Briar Cliff on Oct. 5. The Defenders are averaging 3.17 goals per game (third in the GPAC) and have given Concordia fits in recent years. The Bulldogs are 0-3-1 versus Dordt over the past four seasons.

Concordia has four players with four or more goals this season: Micah Lehenbauer (5), Carlos Ferrer (4), Marcelo Hernandez (4) and Tyler Jensen (4). Jensen recorded his second hat trick of his career in last week’s 11-0 victory over Mount Marty.

Wednesday’s contest will be available live on the web via the Concordia Sports Network.

Comeback bid falls short in tussle with No. 23 Midland
October 13, 2016

SEWARD, Neb. – In a physical battle with the second-highest rated squad in the GPAC, the Concordia University men’s soccer team came up on the short end of a 2-1 score. Twenty-third ranked Midland earned a measure of revenge for last year’s GPAC semifinal with its win underneath the Bulldog Stadium lights on Wednesday night.

Ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad now rests at 6-4-2 overall and 3-2 in conference play. Concordia’s lone GPAC losses have come against the two teams that reside at the top of the league standings.

“Certainly Midland’s a good team. If you’re going to beat them you have to play your best,” Weides said. “We fell short of playing our best today. In the second half we came a lot closer to that, but unfortunately we were a man down at that point. It was just a little too late. I think the positive that we can take away from this game is the fight and resiliency our team showed in the second half.”

The Bulldogs made the final minutes tense thanks to senior Andrew Mussell’s 62nd-minute goal. The native of Buffalo, Minn., headed in a corner from Lewis Rathbone for his second goal of the season. That effort highlighted a second half that saw Concordia outshoot Midland, 5-4.

It wasn’t enough, however, to overcome a sluggish start. Ali Sodal struck for his 15th goal of the year by striking a penalty kick into the net less than six minutes into the game. Another goal followed soon after when Lee Bishop scored in the 12th minute. The Bulldogs then returned to their stingy defensive manners to make it a climactic finish.

Midland (10-2-1, 3-1 GPAC) outshot Concordia, 14-11, on the night. Sodal was the most active Warrior, putting up four shots (three on goal). On the other end of the field, junior Marcelo Hernandez came close to putting away a goal right on the heels of the Mussell header. Hernandez fired five shots to lead the Bulldogs.

Concordia had entered the night with a mark of 7-1-2 over its previous 10 games against GPAC opponents. The Bulldogs had also carried a 3-1 home record prior to Wednesday’s blemish.

The Bulldogs will return to action Saturday when they play in Sioux Center, Iowa, on the home turf of Dordt (5-8, 1-3 GPAC). Concordia will attempt to attempt to knock off the Defenders for the first time since 2011.

Concordia solves Dordt, bumps conference mark to 4-2
October 15, 2016

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – In recent seasons, positive results had been hard to come by for Concordia University men’s soccer when up against Dordt. That changed in a big way on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs used three different goal scorers and their seventh shutout of the season in riding to a 3-0 victory in Sioux Center, Iowa, over the host Defenders.

Ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad earned a win over Dordt for the first time since 2011. Concordia is now 2-1 in GPAC road games and has improved its records to 7-4-2 overall and 4-2 in conference play.

“We knew we were up for a big challenge in trying to outwork them,” Weides said. “That’s something we take pride in every time we step out there – outworking our opponent. I think we did that today. We just played simple and held possession really well. We were patient moving forward. That was some of the best possession we’ve had all year.”

The Bulldogs entered the weekend averaging less than a goal allowed per game. Just one of their first six conference opponents has managed to score more than one goal. Despite some lineup shuffling, Concordia kept up its high level defensive play and limited Dordt to seven total shots. Six of those shots were on frame, but were denied by goalkeeper Mark Horsburgh.

Horsburgh and company got all they needed in the second minute when Marcelo Hernandez executed a cut pass to Micah Lenenbauer, who deposited his fifth goal of the season. It was nearly 30 minutes later when Hernandez got loose for a one-on-one after Dilan Samtani played a through ball. Hernandez took advantage, recording his fifth goal of the season. Carlos Ferrer got into the act with a left-footed goal in the 56th minute.

Concordia’s only conference losses have come to the top-two rated teams in the GPAC: No. 3 Hastings and No. 23 Midland. Saturday’s effort was the perfect response to Wednesday’s home defeat at the hands of Midland.

“I was really pleased with the team’s performance,” Weides said. “We had a team-first mentality today. Top to bottom, every single player who stepped on the field played their role really well. We had some guys who hadn’t played as much so some significant things today.”

The Bulldogs will dip outside of the conference for the final time this regular season when they host Waldorf University (Iowa) (8-4) at 4 p.m. CT on Tuesday (Oct. 18). The two programs also met at Bulldog Stadium in September 2014. That contest resulted in a 1-0 Concordia win.

Men's soccer collects 2015-16 NSCAA team academic award
October 17, 2016

SEWARD, Neb. – Recently the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) named the Concordia University men’s soccer program one of its 2015-16 College Team Academic Award winners. Head coach Jason Weides’ 2015-16 squad posted a collective 3.37 team grade point average.

A total of 914 soccer teams (324 men, 590 women) from throughout the United States earned the NSCAA Team Academic Award for exemplary performance in the classroom as a team during the 2015-16 academic year. Among these programs were 236 schools receiving honors for both their men and women's teams. To qualify for the award, the team must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 or higher for the entire academic year. The team GPA is determined by adding every player's GPA, then dividing by the number of players.

The 2015-16 Bulldogs work in the classroom produced the sixth highest GPA among all NAIA men’s soccer programs. They were also named a NAIA Scholar-Team and tied for the GPAC lead for most NAIA Scholar-Athletes with seven.

Concordia falls in nonconference overtime tilt
October 18, 2016

SEWARD, Neb. – It was one of those frustrating nights in which a series of near misses haunted the Concordia University men’s soccer team. Playing in their final nonconference regular-season game of 2016, the Bulldogs fell in overtime, 1-0, at the hands of visiting Waldorf University (Iowa) on Tuesday evening.

The contest marked the fourth time this season that ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad has lost a match decided by just a single goal. Concordia slipped to 7-5-2 overall and to 3-3 when playing inside Bulldog Stadium.

“It was really frustrating. We had a few good chances,” Weides said. “We had a couple off the post. It’s a game of inches sometimes. Unfortunately, we just weren’t at our best in any regard tonight. I think the best word to sum up our performance is lethargic. We just looked tired.”

Some of that sluggishness would have been relieved by simply putting one of its 16 shots in the back of the net. Freshman Carlos Ferrer came within inches of a goal just prior to the 60-minute mark when his strike hit the left post before being corralled by keeper Humberto Figueroa, who saved the ball as it was rolling towards the goal line. Roughly five minutes later, Alex Grocott put a header off cross bar.

The overtime period provided a good synopsis of the game as a whole. The ball lived on the Waldorf attacking end for the first six minutes of the extra session. The Warriors (10-4) ended the contest after 96:22 had elapsed when Jacob Harris’ throw in found leading goal scorer Cristian Alvarez for a header that sailed into the upper right corner of the goal. Shielded by players in the box, goalkeeper Mark Horsburgh (seven saves on the night) had almost no reaction.

Alvarez had been active all night, recording eight of the team’s 24 shots (eight on goal). Yet Horsburgh and a starting backline that included Dillon Hixson, Andrew Mussell, Luke Batters and Florian Caraballo kept Waldorf in check until that 97th minute. On Concordia’s attacking end, Marcelo Hernandez equaled Alvarez with eight shots of his own.

The loss did nothing to change Concordia’s third-place standing in the conference. With three regular-season games left on the GPAC slate, the Bulldogs are positioned to host a GPAC tournament quarterfinal game.

“Every single team that we play will be challenging from here on out,” Weides said. “If you don’t come with your best, you’re going to walk away disappointed. At the end of the day, we need to make sure we outwork every team we step on the field with.”

The Bulldogs will continue their push for a top-three GPAC finish when they return to conference action on Saturday. It will be the final regular-season home game of the season for Concordia, which welcomes Briar Cliff (8-6, 2-4) for an 8 p.m. CT kickoff. The Bulldogs will honor their six seniors as part of Senior Day festivities.

Men's soccer to celebrate six seniors on Saturday
October 20, 2016

SEWARD, Neb. – Saturday will mark the final regular-season home game in the careers of six seniors on the Concordia University men’s soccer roster. The Bulldogs will complete their home slate against Briar Cliff (8-7, 2-5 GPAC). Saturday’s kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. CT as the third home event of the day inside Bulldog Stadium.

Ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad is right in the thick of the race for a top-three finish in the GPAC regular-season standings. Currently tied with Northwestern for third place, the Bulldogs have won three of their last four conference games and are 4-2 overall. Dating back to last season, Concordia has gone 8-2-2 over its past 12 contests against conference opponents.

“Every single team that we play will be challenging from here on out,” Weides said. “If you don’t come with your best, you’re going to walk away disappointed. We need to make sure that we outwork every team and that we do the simple things.”

The Bulldogs are seeking their sixth-straight winning season, which would mark a first in program history. Since the start of the 2011 season, Weides has led Concordia to a combined record of 60-40-12. Weides now stands at 77-73-17 in his nine seasons as head coach.

Concordia has put together a solid season despite a multitude of lineup adjustments necessitated by injuries and other unforeseen circumstances. The Bulldogs rank 22nd nationally with an average of 0.86 goals allowed per game. They possess a seasoned goalkeeper in Mark Horsburgh, who played a starring in last season’s GPAC tournament title run. On the attacking end, the production has been spread out. Micah Lehenbauer tops the team with six goals. He’s followed by the five goals apiece from Marcelo Hernandez and Carlos Ferrer.

Meanwhile, Briar Cliff has been outscored by a combined total of 8-1 by Midland and Northwestern over its last two games. The Chargers possess a dangerous goal scorer in Christopher Nkoghe, who leads the team with 11 goals. Briar Cliff has won just three of its last 10 contests after jumping out to a 5-0 start during nonconference play.

The six Concordia seniors that will be honored on Saturday are Carlos Acosta, Hernandez, Horsburgh, Andrew Mussell, Dan Stephens and Ray Villegas.  Of them, Acosta and Horsburgh have made the biggest contributions from an on-field perspective. Acosta, a native of Cali, Colombia, has played in 63 games since beginning his career in 2013. Horsburgh, who hails from Edinburgh, Scotland, has 14 career shutouts to his credit. The four-year seniors have posted a combined record of 38-27-9 and were part of the 2015 GPAC tournament championship and national qualifying team.

The Bulldogs will conclude regular-season play next week with trips to Doane (Oct. 26) and Dakota Wesleyan (Oct. 29). The opening round of the GPAC tournament is set for Thursday, Nov. 3.

Hernandez golden goal makes for victorious senior night
October 22, 2016

SEWARD, Neb. – On an evening that the Concordia University men’s soccer team used to celebrate its six seniors, a Marcelo Hernandez penalty kick goal in overtime allowed the Bulldogs to celebrate some more. Concordia relinquished a 1-0 lead, but made up for it by ending things quickly in the extra session and defeated visiting Briar Cliff, 2-1, on Saturday night.

Ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad is now 9-2-2 over its last 13 games versus GPAC opponents. Concordia has raised its season records to 8-5-1 overall and to 5-2 in conference play. The Bulldogs are in the driver’s seat for a third-place GPAC finish.

“It was overall positive. I thought we started the game really strong,” Weides said. “We’ve been working on playing a little simpler. I think that came out in the first half for the most part. Briar Cliff didn’t make it easy by any means. They played really well tonight and put us under a lot of pressure. Once they tied it up we were on our heels for a little while.”

Overtime was like Déjà vu all over again. Just as Hernandez did in the 2-1 overtime win over Northwestern on Sept. 24, he drilled the game winner. This time around it came after the Chargers were penalized for a foul in the box after just 24 seconds of overtime had elapsed. Hernandez then snuck the ball into the goal to the left of keeper Charlie Enright.

Senior Carlos Acosta had missed a PK earlier in the contest, but his good friend had his back. It was an emotional night for Acosta, whose mother was in attendance. The native of Cali, Colombia, had tears streaming as he watched a videoboard piece with recorded messages from members of his family.

“I was crying. I was crying because I miss them so much,” Acosta said. “It’s been a long time being so far from home. It’s actually a mix of feelings. I’m really happy right now because I’m part of this team. Knowing that we’re getting towards the end, that’s a little bit sad.”

The Bulldogs got off to a sterling start when sophomore Micah Lehenbauer pushed his team high season goal count to seven with a score that Enright got a piece of before the ball crossed the goal line. Lehenbauer and company outshot Briar Cliff (8-8, 2-6 GPAC), 22-15. Concordia enjoyed a decisive 12-5 advantage in shots on goal.

Goalkeeper Mark Horsburgh, also a senior, made four saves on the night. One of which came in the second half and was particularly highlight reel worthy. The lone goal that he surrendered occurred in the 25th minute when Christopher Nkoghe got loose for the equalizer.

The Bulldogs will end the regular season with two GPAC road trips next week. First up is Wednesday’s jaunt to Crete to take on rival Doane (7-6-1, 4-3 GPAC). Kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. CT. Last season’s meeting ended in a 1-1 draw. Concordia is hoping to keep itself in position to host when the GPAC quarterfinals take place on Thursday, Nov. 3. The top four seeds earn the right to play at home in the postseason’s opening round.

Concordia rallies at Doane, clinches No. 3 seed
October 26, 2016

CRETE, Neb. – White knucklers have defined the Concordia-Doane series when it comes to men’s soccer. Not surprisingly, another one-goal game ensued. On Wednesday the Bulldogs shook off a 1-0 deficit by registering three-straight goals to pull out a 3-2 victory over the host Tigers.

With the win, ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad has clinched the No. 3 seed for the GPAC tournament and the right to host in the conference quarterfinals on Nov. 3. Concordia has also equaled a program record for most GPAC wins in a season while improving to 9-5-1 overall and to 6-2 in league play.

“We certainly thought we were going to have to come back from half and battle back from a deficit,” Weides said. “That was a bit of a fortunate break in that we played a cross in that ended up being on frame and their keeper didn’t deal with it well. Within just a couple minutes, suddenly we were up 2-1 at half. It made the first half feel better than what it was.”

Though it looked like Doane would take a 1-0 lead to the break, the Bulldogs netted a pair of 44th-minute goals to reverse the course of the game. Sophomore Aries Fung spurred the furious first-half finish by assisting Alex Grocott’s first career goal. Thirty-six seconds later Concordia stunned the Tigers with another goal, this one from Fung himself on a brilliant strike.

Then in the 57th minute, junior Micah Lehenbauer added breathing room that the Bulldogs would need by notching his team best eighth goal of 2016. It wasn’t going to be easy against Doane. It never is. Nine of the previous 12 matchups between the two sides had gone to overtime.

An extra session seemed plausible when Daniel Maganda drilled a penalty kick goal in the 81st minute, drawing the Tigers within one. Concordia locked in and did not allow a single Doane (7-7-1, 4-4 GPAC) shot the rest of the game to sew up a contest with major conference standings implications.

Both teams took 12 shots. The Tigers owned a slight 6-5 advantage in shots on goal. Keeper Mark Horsburgh made four saves for Concordia, which allowed more than one goal for just the fourth time this season.

The Bulldogs have nailed down their highest GPAC finish during Weides’ tenure. Concordia has not hosted a GPAC tournament game since Weides played in the early 2000s. Last season the sixth-seeded Bulldogs celebrated the conference tournament title after knocking off each of the top three seeds, all on the road. With Wednesday’s win, Weides’ squad has also guaranteed a first for the program – a sixth-straight winning season.

“Our goal was to finish in the top four,” Weides said. “We’ve had some good teams over the past few years that were capable of that. We had fallen short of that goal. It’s great for these guys to achieve it. The season hasn’t been everything we wanted, but now we are where we wanted to be. Now it’s about setting new goals and finishing the season strong.”

The Bulldogs will conclude the regular season on Saturday with a trip to Dakota Wesleyan (2-12, 1-6 GPAC) for a 3:30 p.m. CT kickoff. A 3-2 come-from-behind win in Mitchell, S.D., in 2015 helped spark Concordia to its big late-season run.

Regular season wraps up with loss at Dakota Wesleyan
October 29, 2016

MITCHELL, S.D. – The Concordia University men’s soccer team had hoped to wrap up the 2016 regular season with a third-straight victory. Host Dakota Wesleyan had other ideas on its senior day, which took place Saturday in Mitchell, S.D. Despite dominating possession most of the afternoon, the Bulldogs fell by a 2-1 score.

The loss leaves ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad at 9-6-2 overall and 6-3 in conference play heading into next week’s postseason action. The Bulldogs had already clinched the No. 3 seed in the league tournament courtesy of Wednesday’s 3-2 victory at Doane.

“We played with good energy and effort overall,” Weides said. “I thought we dominated the game in most facets despite the score line. We just got going on the wrong foot conceding a PK goal seven minutes in. Then the second goal really hurt right before half and against the run of play.”

Down 2-0, Concordia waited just a bit too late to finally put its first goal away. The Bulldogs cut their deficit in half when Andrew Mussell assisted Alex Grocott on a header goal. But the Dakota Wesleyan goalkeeper rose to the occasion on this particular day and helped his team come away with the upset win.

The Bulldogs will try to put this one behind them quickly as they prepare to host sixth-seeded Northwestern (7-11, 4-5 GPAC) in the GPAC quarterfinals on Thursday (Nov. 3). Kickoff from Bulldog Stadium will be at 7 p.m. CT.

Concordia would love to duplicate the run it put together last season when it won the GPAC tournament title, capping it off with a 1-0 upset of Hastings in the championship tilt.

“We would like to have momentum moving into the playoffs, but we have to have a short memory and be ready for Thursday,” Weides said.

The Bulldogs have also sewed up their sixth-straight winning season. Concordia will need one win to extend its streak of consecutive 10-win campaigns to six as well.

Grocott nabs GPAC offensive player of the week accolades
November 1, 2016

SEWARD, Neb. – For the first time this season, a Concordia University men’s soccer player has garnered a GPAC weekly award. On Tuesday (Nov. 1), the conference tabbed freshman Alex Grocott the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Men’s Soccer Player of the Week.

A midfielder from Darlington, England, Grocott recorded the first two goals of his collegiate career last week as Concordia split a pair of conference road games while completing the regular season. Grocott also assisted on a goal in the 3-2 victory at Doane on Oct. 26. Grocott has played in 12 games, making one start this season.

Grocott and the third-seeded Bulldogs (9-6-2, 6-3 GPAC) will host sixth-seeded Northwestern (7-11, 4-5 GPAC) in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament on Thursday. The winner will advance to play in the semifinals on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Men's soccer set to host in GPAC postseason for first time since 2001
November 1, 2016

SEWARD, Neb. – Ninth-year head coach Jason Weides was a Bulldog defender the last two times the Concordia University men’s soccer team served as the host for a postseason game. The 15-year drought will come to an end on Thursday when the third-seeded Bulldogs (9-6-2, 6-3 GPAC) welcome sixth-seeded Northwestern (7-11, 4-5) to Bulldog Stadium for a 7 p.m. CT kickoff.

Last year Concordia did things the hard way while making its way to a GPAC tournament championship. The No. 6 seed in 2015, the Bulldogs knocked off each of the league’s top three seeds in the postseason, holding all of them scoreless as part of an improbable run. Concordia is meeting up with Northwestern in the conference quarterfinals for the second-straight year and for the third time in four seasons.

Though the Bulldogs outshot the Red Raiders, 16-6, in the regular-season matchup in Seward on Sept. 24, they needed overtime to finally put the game away. Marcelo Hernandez ended the contest early in overtime with a golden goal that resulted in a 2-1 Concordia win. The 2015 GPAC quarterfinal was also decided by just a single goal. Sean Doran’s 74th-minute goal was the only score of the 1-0 affair.

The 2015 GPAC tournament title allowed Weides’ program to complete unfinished business from the previous season when Concordia dropped a 2-1 overtime heartbreaker on a bone chilling night at No. 11 Hastings in the conference semifinals. The Bulldogs are looking to reach at least the GPAC semis for a third-consecutive season.

Though Concordia was upset by Dakota Wesleyan in a regular-season finale that it dominated possession in, the Bulldogs have been on an impressive run against GPAC opponents. They carry a record of 10-3-2 over their last 15 matches versus conference foes into postseason play. Two of the three losses came against ranked opponents – No. 4 Hastings and No. 23 Midland.

During the regular season, Concordia produced a plus-19 goal differential while holding opponents to an average of one goal per game (third best in the GPAC). One of the Bulldogs’ biggest advantages is the presence of battled tested senior goalkeeper Mark Horsburgh, who made 26 saves over last season’s three GPAC tournament contests. Offensively, junior Micah Lehenbauer leads the offensive attack with eight goals on the year.

The winner of Thursday’s game will advance to play in the GPAC semifinals on Tuesday, Nov. 8 (see schedule below). Concordia last won a GPAC tournament home game in 2000, when it defeated the University of Sioux Falls in the quarterfinals.

Thursday, Nov. 3 – Quarterfinals
No. 8 Dordt at No. 1 Hastings, 7 p.m.
No. 5 Doane at No. 4 Morningside, 7 p.m.
No. 6 Northwestern at No. 3 Concordia, 7 p.m.
No. 7 Briar Cliff at No. 2 Midland, 7 p.m. 

Tuesday, Nov. 8 – Semifinals
No. 1/8 winner vs. No. 4/5 winner (highest seed hosts)
No. 3/6 winner vs. No. 2/7 winner (highest seed hosts)

Friday, Nov. 11 – Championship

Winning ways continue in GPAC postseason
November 3, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – A pair of Lewis Rathbone headers were enough to erase a one-goal hole and lift the Concordia University men’s soccer program to yet another GPAC tournament victory. The 2015 GPAC postseason champs extended their conference tournament unbeaten streak to four while holding off visitor and sixth-seeded Northwestern, 2-1, in Thursday’s quarterfinal tilt.

In the process of claiming victory, ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad pushed its run of consecutive seasons of 10 or more wins to six. The third-seeded Bulldogs (10-6-2) will now play at second-seeded Midland (16-2-1) in the semifinals on Tuesday.

It felt good to be at home for a program that hadn’t hosted a postseason game since 2001.

“The past few years we fell short of hosting a playoff game, but obviously had good playoff runs,” Weides said. “It’s really nice to be in front of our fans. Our fans are so great. I think it was just a huge advantage for us tonight and helped spur on the guys.”

Northwestern (7-12) couldn’t seem to keep track of Rathbone in the box. The junior from Manchester, England, proved lethal with the ball in the air. Both of his goals came on headers. The first was assisted by Alex Grocott on an expertly placed ball that got Rathbone in behind the defenders. The second came after goalkeeper Matt Scott punched the ball directly at Rathbone, who headed the it into the upper left corner of the goal from just inside the 18.

It was the first career multi-goal game for the junior midfielder.

“Two brilliant balls into the box on my head. I couldn’t ask for two better balls,” Rathbone said. “I just connected with them. I’m happy with the two goals, but I’m more happy with the win.”

Northwestern struck first after a throw in into the box kicked out long to Lee Wynja, whose strike from more than 25 yards out glanced off the fingertips of goalkeeper Mark Horsburgh and went into the back of the net in the 41st minute.

Horsburgh made up for it with a sparkling second half that included a series of noteworthy saves. Horsburgh has been here before. He shined as one of the heroes of last year’s GPAC championship run that saw him total 26 saves as the Bulldogs shut out all three opponents on the road.

The Red Raiders ended their season with four-straight losses, including three by a margin of just one goal. However, they made life difficult during the first half in particular. Northwestern ended up outshooting Concordia, 11-9, though the Bulldogs held possession better over the contest’s final 45 minutes.

“I just think we did a really good job of responding and not letting that first goal knock us on our heels,” Weides said. “We kept on playing. Our guys were unfazed by it. Top to bottom, everybody who stepped on the field did a great job for us. We had a ton of energy from our sideline. All around it was a great team performance.”

Now the Bulldogs put their GPAC postseason win streak on the line at Midland, which has leapt all the way up to No. 14 in the national coaches’ poll. When the two sides met in Seward back on Oct. 12, the Warriors came away with a 2-1 victory. Concordia and Midland also played in the GPAC semifinals in 2015 when the Bulldogs advanced by winning the penalty kick shootout that followed a 0-0 draw.

“We just have to finish our chances,” Rathbone said. “We’ve got to be positive in front of the goal. We create a lot of chances. We’re going to need to put them away early and start really fast.”


GPAC semifinal rematch at Midland looms on Tuesday
November 7, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – In a game that will go down in Concordia University men’s soccer lore, the Bulldogs celebrated in Fremont last November when Mark Horsburgh’s successful penalty kick clinched the GPAC semifinal over second-seeded Midland. Head coach Jason Weides wouldn’t complain about a repeat of that performance. Ranked 14th in the NAIA, the Warriors appear even stronger this time around.

This year’s semifinal tussle between third-seeded Concordia (10-6-2) and second-seeded Midland (16-2-1) is set for 7 p.m. CT at Heedum Field on Tuesday.

Weides knows it will take a great performance from his squad to avenge the 2-1 loss it suffered at the hands of the Warriors inside Bulldog Stadium on Oct. 12.

“We have to start well. The first time we played Midland we just didn’t start well,” Weides said. “We gave up two early goals. Midland’s a good team, don’t get me wrong, but I think we gifted them a couple goals. Then we ended up going down a man in the first half. We just really dug ourselves a big hole. We responded really well and made it 2-1, even down a man. Now it’s about playing better in the first 15 minutes.”

Champion of the 2015 GPAC tournament, Concordia advanced to the semifinals for the third-straight season thanks to last week’s 2-1 quarterfinal home victory over Northwestern. Junior Lewis Rathbone supplied the offense with a pair of header goals. It marked the second year in a row that the Bulldogs got past the Red Raiders in the quarterfinal round.

GPAC nailbiters have become the norm for Concordia, which has seen seven of 10 games against conference opponents come down to a margin of just a single goal. The Bulldogs are 4-3 in those seven instances. Dating back to last season, Weides has led his program to a mark of 11-3-2 over its last 16 contests against conference opponents. During that stretch, Concordia has beaten every current GPAC member at least once.

Behind Ali Sodal (22 goals), Midland boasts one of the most dangerous goal scoring teams in the nation. The Warriors rank 10th among all NAIA teams with an average of 3.7 goals per game. Midland’s only defeats this season have come against Bellevue University and then No. 4 Hastings.

Concordia will put its four-game GPAC tournament unbeaten streak on the line while following the lead of senior goalkeeper Mark Horsburgh, one of the heroes of last year’s postseason run. Meanwhile, Midland hopes to reach the GPAC championship game for the fifth time in the last six years. The Warriors last won the GPAC tournament title in 2013 when they upset Hastings in the final.

Tuesday’s winner will play either top-seeded Hastings (18-0, 9-0 GPAC) or fourth-seeded Morningside (14-4-1, 5-4 GPAC) in the championship on Friday (see below).

Thursday, Nov. 3 (GPAC quarterfinals)
No. 1 Hastings 4, No. 8 Dordt 0
No. 4 Morningside 2, No. 5 Doane 1
No. 3 Concordia 2, No. 6 Northwestern 1
No. 2 Midland 5, No. 7 Briar Cliff 1 

Tuesday, Nov. 8 (GPAC semifinals)
No. 4 Morningside at No. 1 Hastings, 7 p.m.
No. 3 Concordia at No. 2 Midland, 7 p.m. 

Friday, Nov. 11 (GPAC championship)


Bulldogs bound for GPAC final once again after upset at Midland
November 9, 2016

FREMONT, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s soccer program is out to prove that last year was no fluke. In Tuesday night’s GPAC semifinal clash in Fremont, the third-seeded Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead and then held on for a 3-2 upset of 13th-ranked Midland. The outcome came almost exactly a year after Concordia celebrated a penalty kick shootout semifinal victory on the same Heedum Field turf.

Ninth-year head coach Jason Weides has fostered a team of believers.

“They were confident. Our guys prepared really well and were focused on our goal of getting back to the conference championship,” Weides said. “Midland is a very good team, but we also knew that it was one of our weaker performances when we played them during the regular season. We were excited to get another opportunity.”

Of course nothing has come easy during the program’s active five-game unbeaten run in GPAC postseason games. Concordia needed only two goals in 2015 during its tournament championship run of nailbiters. It looked like it might be different this time around when Toby Down pushed the lead to 3-0 with a goal in the 62nd minute.

But Harrison Rogers got Midland on the board roughly 10 minutes later and suddenly the Warriors sprung to life. The second Midland goal quickly followed as delivered by Ali Sodal. There would be no breathing easy over the final minutes. Said Weides, “Credit to them. They really fought hard and didn’t give up. Once they got that first goal we were a little bit on our heels and Midland got a lot of energy obviously.”

Weides and his squad had sweat out several late chances produced by Midland, but Concordia did just enough behind senior goalkeeper Mark Horsburgh, who saved the Bulldogs’ bacon on more than one instance. Horsburgh made 10 saves on the night while helping Concordia overcome a 27-13 disadvantage in shots.

“It feels amazing,” Down said. “We set a goal at the beginning of the season to get back. We’ve done it. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We fought together and we talked about being together. We knew that was going to carry us through.”

Continuing his stellar postseason, junior Lewis Rathbone helped the Bulldogs (11-6-2) get out to a quick start when he headed in his third goal in two games off a free kick struck by Marcelo Hernandez. It was a big offensive night for Hernandez, who put Concordia up 2-0 with a goal less than four minutes into the second half. He also assisted Down’s goal that proved to be the game winner.

The final seconds ticked away with the ball in the hands of Horsburgh, who had one final denial up his sleeve. After shaking hands with Midland players, the Bulldogs embraced their group of traveling fans and celebrated a feat that no longer feels like a shock to anyone inside the program.

“It’s exciting to have those expectations to be here competing for this year-in and year-out,” Weides said. “That’s what we’re trying to do now from here on forward. It’s built on the backs of every other Bulldog that’s ever put on a jersey – guys who have bled for us and sweat for us and worked hard to improve our program.”

Concordia now gets set for another rematch. Friday’s GPAC championship game will be at second-ranked Hastings (19-0), which remained undefeated by fending off Morningside, 4-2, in the other semifinal on Tuesday. Kickoff on Friday is set for 7 p.m. CT. The Bulldogs would be thrilled to duplicate their 1-0 upset victory at Hastings in the 2015 GPAC championship game.

Said Down, “The second time around is always harder, but we’re up for the challenge.”

GPAC title rematch awaits defending champion Bulldogs
November 9, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – The wave of GPAC tournament success continues for Concordia University men’s soccer, which has defied outside expectations for the second-straight postseason. A No. 6 seed last year, the Bulldogs did the unthinkable by running the table and claiming victory on the road against each of the conference’s top three seeds.

If ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad is to repeat the feat, it will do so against the very same teams, in the exact same order: Northwestern, Midland and Hastings. The rematch of the 2015 championship game will again take place at Lloyd Wilson Field in Hastings. Friday’s kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT.

It’s a new time for Weides’ program. Concordia’s appearance in the conference title game isn’t quite the shocker it was last November.

“It’s exciting to have the expectations to be there and competing for that year-in and year-out,” Weides said. “That’s what we’re trying to do now from here on forward. It’s built on the backs of every other Bulldog that’s put on a jersey – guys who have bled for us, sweat for us and worked hard to improve our program. Even the guys who never got to this point – we’re building on the back of former Bulldogs.”

The upper echelon of the conference appeared nearly unbeatable entering the 2016 GPAC tournament. Top-seeded Hastings has come back with a vengeance since falling to Concordia in last year’s conference tournament conference game. Ranked second nationally, the undefeated Broncos (19-0) are a lock for the national tournament after missing out in 2015. Midland had also been dominant within the conference, falling only once during GPAC regular-season play.

It seemed Hastings and Midland were on a collision course to meet in the final – only Concordia got in the way, again.

“We’ve got to be confident,” said junior defender Toby Down. “Midland is a good team. So is Hastings. We did it last year with the same road. We can go do it again. The second time around is always harder, but we’re up for the challenge.”

Perhaps in a somewhat quiet manner, Concordia has lurked in the shadows of the Hastings and Midland programs. This year the Bulldogs broke through with a top-three regular-season finish and hosted a GPAC tournament game for the first time since 2001. Weides felt like his program was drawing closer to moments like this. In the 2014 conference tourney, Concordia suffered a 1-0 overtime defeat at No. 11 Hastings. A year later the Bulldogs busted down a massive mental barrier by taking out the Broncos in a stunning conference final.

But Hastings has come back stronger under first-year head coach Aaron Champenoy. After their 1-0 win over Concordia on Sept. 28, the Broncos won each of their next nine games by margins of at least two goals. Star Daniel Whitehall leads the nation with 29 goals for a team that averages 3.89 per game. Hastings also rarely allows goals having recorded 13 shutouts this season. Most teams struggle just to keep up.

But Concordia appears to have risen above the level of ‘most teams.’ In the postseason it finds a way, even if that means Lewis Rathbone going off for more goals than he had all regular season or goalkeeper Mark Horsburgh making super human saves. Concordia players may have said in the past that they wanted to win a conference championship. Now they actually believe it.

“They were confident,” Weides said after the semifinal win. “I think the guys prepared really well. They were really focused on our goal of getting back to the conference championship.”

WATCH LIVE: Friday’s game will be shown live via Hastings College and its Stretch Internet account. The broadcast can be accessed HERE at game time.

Concordia: 11-6-2, 6-3 GPAC (3rd)
Head coach: Jason Weides (81-74-17, 9th season)
Goals scored/game: 2.16 (8th in GPAC)
Goals allowed/game: 1.05 (3rd in GPAC)
Top goal scorer: Micah Lehenbauer (8 goals)
Goalkeeper: Mark Horsburgh (1.086 GAA, .794 save percentage, 77 saves, 4 shutouts)
Road to final: Defeated 6th-seeded Northwestern, 2-1, in the quarterfinals and 2nd-seeded Midland, 3-2, in the semifinals. 

Hastings: 19-0, 9-0 GPAC (1st)
Head coach: Aaron Champenoy (19-0, 1st season; went 82-61-11 in 9 seasons at University of St. Thomas)
Goals scored/game: 3.89 (1st in GPAC)
Goals allowed/game: 0.63 (1st in GPAC)
Top goal scorer: Daniel Whitehall (29 goals)
Goalkeeper: Joe White (.690 GAA, .727 save percentage, 32 saves, 9 shuouts)
Road to final: Defeated 8th-seeded Dordt, 4-0, in the quarterfinals and 4th-seeded Morningside, 4-2, in the semifinals.


Bid for second-straight title thwarted by No. 2 Hastings
November 11, 2016 

HASTINGS, Neb. – Hoping to celebrate a GPAC tournament title on Lloyd Wilson Field for the second-straight year, the Concordia University men’s soccer team was just the latest victim for undefeated and second-ranked Hastings, which claimed 2016 GPAC regular-season and postseason titles. In Friday night’s conference championship tilt, the Broncos won, 3-1.

Ninth-year head coach Jason Weides’ squad was attempting to run the table against the same teams, in the same order, that it knocked off during its 2015 GPAC tournament title run. Instead, the five-game GPAC postseason unbeaten run came to an end for the Bulldogs (11-7-2).

“We told the guys they have to look back and enjoy the journey and look at all the great moments throughout the year,” Weides said. “Sometimes we like to dwell on the negative, the what ifs and the buts, but there are a lot of great things this team accomplished. I’m really proud of them.

“We came up a little short today. Credit to Hastings. They played really well. I think we saw the best of them.”

It wasn’t one of the usual suspects that gave Hastings (20-0) a 21st-minute lead, but defender Daniel Linstead, who picked an opportune time for his first goal of the season. Star forward Daniel Whitehall took it from there, finding the back of the net once in the first half and then another time in the second half to help the Broncos build a commanding 3-0 lead.

Not only one of the nation’s most powerful offensive sides, Hastings also rarely concedes goals. The Broncos snuffed out Concordia for most of the night on Friday, limiting the visitors to 12 shots – three on goal. Lewis Rathbone, who had three combined header goals over wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals, was shut down. He fired two shots, including one on goal.

The lone goal came outside the run of play. A Hastings foul in the box led to a penalty kick goal for Marcelo Hernandez in the 79th minute.

Though the title game showing fell beneath their own lofty expectations, the Bulldogs made a leap forward in 2016 with a more complete and consistent regular season. Concordia hosted a GPAC tournament quarterfinal game for the first time since 2001 and went on the road to upset 13th-ranked Midland, 3-2, in the conference semifinals.

The 2017 Bulldogs will have many of their current essential components back in place. However, they will bid farewell to reliable senior goalkeeper Mark Horsburgh, who raised his profile with a heroic performance during the 2015 conference tournament. Two other seniors started on Friday: Hernandez and center back Andrew Mussell.

“I think he played well for us throughout the whole season,” Weides said of Horsburgh. “Come playoff season and the end of the regular season, Sparky played really, really well. He was a huge factor in our run last year.”


Caraballo, Hernandez earn first team All-GPAC accolades
November 14, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – Three Bulldogs represented the GPAC tournament runner-up Concordia University men’s soccer team on either the conference’s first or second team, as announced by the league on Monday (Nov. 14). Junior Florian Caraballo and senior Marcelo Hernandez both garnered first team honors while junior Micah Lehenbauer found himself on the second team. Five other Bulldogs collected honorable mention accolades: junior Toby Down, freshman Carlos Ferrer, sophomore Aries Fung, senior Mark Horsburgh and junior Lewis Rathbone.

Caraballo, a native of Cordoba, Spain, started all 20 games as a defender for a Bulldog squad limited opponents to an average of 1.15 goals per game (third in the GPAC). He also contributed two assists. A transfer, Caraballo previously attended Marshalltown Community College.

Hernandez also made his Concordia debut in 2016. While starting 17 games, the native of Quito, Ecuador, tied a team high with eight goals. In addition, he assisted four goals. Four of Hernandez’s goals were game winners.

Like Caraballo, Lehenbauer started all 20 games. He shared the team goal scoring lead with Hernandez and chipped in three assists. The native of Kathleen, Ga., posted multi-goal games against Nebraska Wesleyan and Mount Marty.

A two-year starter, Horsburgh started every game in goal this season and recorded four shutouts. He also equaled a career best with 84 saves while posting a save percentage of .785 and a goals against average of 1.185. During his career, Horsburgh played in nearly 4,000 minutes and put up 202 saves and 14 shutouts.

Rathbone was a second team all-GPAC choice last season. He tallied three of his five goals in 2016 during postseason play. Ferrer totaled five goals and three assists over 20 games (18 starts). Down played in 18 games and posted one goal and two assists. Fung saw action in 17 games, posting two goals and one assist.

The season concluded last week with a 3-1 loss at No. 2 Hastings in the GPAC tournament championship game. Head coach Jason Weides’ program reached the GPAC title contest for the second-straight year.