2023 GPAC women’s soccer quarterfinal preview: Concordia vs. Jamestown

By Chase Benton on Oct. 31, 2023 in Women's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – After a regular season that achieved more than the outside noise, the Concordia University Women’s Soccer team earned second place, just two points shy of their second GPAC championship (2017). The program will appear in the GPAC tournament for the 15th straight year while preparing to clash against seventh-seeded Jamestown in Bulldog Stadium. The second-seeded Dawgs finished seventh last year and were picked fifth in the GPAC preseason coaches’ poll. New Head Coach Nick Smith put his ballot in for GPAC coach of the year scoring 10 more points (GPAC) with a 12-3-3 overall record and 8-1-3 in the conference.

Next Match

GPAC Quarterfinals: Thursday, Nov. 2 vs. Jamestown (5-8-3, 5-5-2 GPAC), 7 p.m.
--Live Webcast | Live Stats | Location: Bulldog Stadium (Seward, Neb.)
--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.

By the numbers

·       Concordia finds confidence in the past 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. While this will be Coach Smith’s first tournament run toward a championship, it won’t be for the first for a few of his players. Center-back Grace Soenksen, goalkeeper Bradi Ore and midfielder Hannah Haas were a part of the 2020 championship squad.

·       On Oct. 7, Concordia held the lead virtually the entire way, versus Jamestown, thanks to Garner’s GPAC leading 13th goal of 2023. Garner took advantage of the Jimmies’ high line and was played through on a perfectly executed pass by Sierra Springer. The Bulldogs wound up putting six shots on frame (eight total shots) in what became a defensive battle. No team would score again in the 1-0 victory on the road, but Taylor Slaymaker was credited with “her best performance by far” after the match by Smith. Ore earned her season high nine save shutout, as Sierra Springer and Sadie Mares were credited for taking part in the conference win against UJ.

·       Garner was the team high goal scorer (eight) in 2022, but the sophomore sharp shooter has surged to a new level on the offensive end of the field. She has more than doubled last season’s output with a conference leading 19 goals (T-eighth in NAIA), just shy of the program’s single season top five. The Kearney, Neb. product, is averaging 1.06 goals per game and has a seven game winning goals, which is good enough for second all time in the program for a single season. The Dawgs will need to lean on her offensive prowess to move deep into the tournament.

·       The highly decorated fifth year Soenksen, will command the back end as she has continually erased the conference's top goal scorers in their attack. With a mixed bag of veterans to newcomers on the back line, Concordia has allowed only 13 goals through their 18 matches this season. Their opponents have totaled 133 shots, 90 less than their offense, as Concordia has a +36 goal differential (top five in school history). Ore has only allowed 10 goals through her 1,261 minutes of play. She has earned six complete shutouts putting her in the top five in the program and third in the conference for goals against average (0.71).

·       The offense for the Dawgs has scored 49 goals (2nd in GPAC) on 31 assists (3rd in GPAC). With 10 different players having scored, the leaders are Garner and Savannah Andrews (12, 5th in GPAC). The two were racing for first in the conference before an injury set Andrews back in the Morningside match. Sierra Springer emerged in the middle of the season as a starter and has been given significant minutes since, scoring five goals and a team high five assists. Elena Ruiz rounds out the top four goal scorers with four (two game winners), starting off the season hot. Haas, Garner and Andrews had four assists apiece.

The opponent

The Jimmies come into the tournament with a 5-5-2 conference record and having won the regular season championship in 2022. They finished their season 1-3 with a win over Dakota Wesleyan (1-0) and losses to Dordt (4-0), CSM (2-1) and Briar Cliff (1-0). Jamestown sits in the bottom of the conference in goals scored (17), allowing their opponents to score 27 in their 16 total games. Their leading goal scorer Miarosa Gyllenswan has kicked five goals in the back of the net, totaling 10 points. Goalkeeper Tea Pence has totaled 1,387 minutes, 83 saves and 3 complete shutouts.

GPAC tournament pairings

Quarterfinals – Thursday, Nov. 2
(8) Dakota Wesleyan at (1) Hastings, 7 p.m.
(5) Morningside at (4) Dordt, 5 p.m.
(6) College of Saint Mary at (3) Midland, 7 p.m.
(7) Jamestown at (2) Concordia, 7 p.m.

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

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