2022 GPAC women's soccer quarterfinal preview: Concordia at Briar Cliff

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 31, 2022 in Women's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – Thanks to a pair of wins to close the regular season, the Concordia University Women’s Soccer team earned a shot in the postseason. The program will appear in the GPAC tournament for a 14th straight year while preparing to go up against second-seeded Briar Cliff. The seventh-seeded Bulldogs will be headed to Faber Field in Sioux City, Iowa, for a 1 p.m. CT kickoff on Wednesday as part of the GPAC quarterfinal round. Head Coach Thomas Goines’ squad went 10-5-2 (5-5-2 GPAC) during the regular season.

This Week

GPAC Quarterfinals: Wednesday, Nov. 2 at Briar Cliff (12-1-4, 10-0-2 GPAC), 1 p.m.
--Live Webcast | Live Stats | Location: Faber Field (Sioux City, Iowa)
--Admission: $10 for adults/senior citizens, $3 for K-12; only those with NAIA passes and GPAC student ID’s are admitted free of charge.

GPAC Semifinals: Saturday, Nov. 5 (if win on Wednesday)
--Concordia/Briar Cliff winner will play the Hastings/Morningside winner

By the numbers

·        Concordia would like to channel the postseason success the program has enjoyed in recent years. Over the previous nine GPAC tournaments, the Bulldogs have reached at least the semifinals seven times and have played in the championship game six times (five straight years from 2014 through 2018). The program celebrated GPAC postseason championships in 2014, 2016 and 2020. Goines was at the controls for the run in 2020, which actually occurred in the spring of 2021 due to the schedule being affected by COVID-19. There are five players on the current roster who started the 2020 GPAC tournament final: Aliyah Aldama, Allee Downing, Ellie Eason, Lina Kirst and Grace Soenksen.

·        Concordia has taken ownership of the rivalry with Doane. The Bulldogs have won all 10 meetings since 2013, allowing the program to even the all-time series, 16-16. In the latest matchup (on Oct. 26), Concordia relieved some of the pressure it may have felt – with its season on the line – when freshman Kierstynn Garner found the back of the net in the seventh minute (assisted by Aldama). Breathing room came in the 54th minute when Savannah Andrews notched her fourth goal this season with the help of Garner’s pass. There were chances to score again, but the Bulldogs won somewhat comfortably, 2-0, while owning a 15-7 advantage in shots. Keeper Kalie Ward made four saves in the process of earning a shutout.

·        Getting Garner going on the attack could be a key to Concordia’s ability to make a run in the postseason. The Kearney High School product leads the team with eight goals this season. She came close to a second goal in the win over Doane when one of her shots hit the right post. Garner had not scored a goal since putting away two goals in the win over Mount Marty on Sept. 17. She has also paced the team with four game-winners. Three of her teammates have scored four goals apiece this season: Andrews, Eason and Kirst.

·        As a team, the Bulldogs have outscored their foes, 32-15, and have outshot them, 138-81, in 2022. The team’s season high for goals was six in the 6-0 win over Mount Marty on Sept. 17. Last week’s shutout of Doane marked the ninth of the season for Concordia, which has gotten solid goalkeeper play from Ward (8-5-2 record this season). Among conference teams, the Bulldogs rank sixth in goals scored and fourth in goals against average (0.83). Within conference play, Concordia outscored its foes, 18-11.

·        The Bulldogs and Chargers just played each other in Seward on Oct. 19 with the result being a 3-0 win for Briar Cliff. The Chargers got a goal apiece from Ariana Rodriguez and Mady Soumare in the first half and then got the benefit of an own goal in the second half. The Chargers went unbeaten this season in GPAC play (10-0-2) and haven’t lost to a GPAC team since a 2-0 defeat at Midland on Oct. 27, 2021. Briar Cliff is the defending GPAC tournament champion. Concordia is 16-8 all-time versus the Chargers.

The opponent

As stated, Briar Cliff is looking to defend its 2021 GPAC tournament title. The Chargers have received votes in the national poll while making a dominant run through the regular season. Briar Cliff is fresh off a showdown with conference regular season champion Jamestown, which ended in a 1-1 tie in Sioux City. The Chargers have outscored their opponents, 54-10, behind sensational freshman Mady Soumare (18 goals and four assists). Head Coach Clark Charlestin’s squad was especially impressive within conference, outscoring GPAC foes, 46-4, while registering eight clean sheets.

GPAC tournament pairings

Quarterfinals – Wednesday, Nov. 2
(8) Doane at (1) Jamestown, 6 p.m.
(5) Dordt at (4) Midland, 7:30 p.m.
(6) Morningside at (3) Hastings, 7 p.m.
(7) Concordia at (2) Briar Cliff, 1 p.m.

Semifinals – Saturday, Nov. 5
1/8 winner vs. 4/5 winner, time TBA
2/7 winner vs. 3/6 winner, time TBA

Championship – Thursday, Nov. 10
Highest remaining seed hosts, time TBA