SEWARD, Neb. – First-year head coach Greg Henson earned his first victory at the helm of Bulldog women’s soccer as Concordia shook off an early penalty kick goal. Concordia (1-0) stormed back for a 4-1 victory inside Bulldog Stadium on Wednesday evening in the 2013 season opener.
“Very, very pleased with the effort today from the ladies,” Henson said. “I thought we came out strong out of the gate and put a lot of pressure on Bethel. We created a lot of good goal-scoring opportunities.
“I was really impressed with their ability to bounce back and put the assault on and put the ball in the back of the net three times in the first half.”
The Bulldogs evened things up when Ashlie Sklenika of Lincoln, Neb., struck for a score in the 26th minute. A balanced Bulldog attack was just getting started.
Last year’s breakout star, Rachel Mussell, found the back of the net to make it 2-1 in the 31st minute. The Buffalo, Minn., native scored easily after maneuvering right down the middle of the field and tucking the ball into the left side of the goal.
The junior picked up where she left off last season when she scored 14 goals and earned first team all-conference honors. However, on Wednesday night she did not have to do it alone as four different Bulldogs racked up a goal apiece.
Concordia’s most impressive goal came in the 40th minute to close the scoring in a great offensive half. Senior forward Jordan Donohoue controlled the ball near the right corner and crossed a pass into the box. Junior Meredith Hein was on the receiving end and, after using her body to plant the ball in front of her, poked the ball past keeper Madison Wiles.
For Hein, it was her first collegiate goal.
“It was a little goofy feeling,” Hein said. “But once I dropped it, then I just kicked it into the corner of the net and it felt really good.”
The barrage of goals in the first half seemed inevitable with the way Concordia controlled play and kept Bethel on the defensive. The Bulldogs out-numbered the Threshers, 22-5, in total shots and even forced Bethel to make a change at keeper in the second half.
Henson’s squad coasted in the second half on the strength of another strong defensive half. After a little bit of a lull to begin the half, Concordia regained its aggressiveness to put away the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference foe.
Another Bulldog notched her first career goal as sophomore midfielder Jaimi Stelk put away the final tally off a beautiful assist from junior forward Melissa Stine. Stelk’s goal in the 87th minute gave Henson and company a comfortable lead down the stretch.
“It feels great because it was our home turf,” Hein said. “We got our first win in our first game of the season and we put it away – we beat them at half and kept improving during the second half.”
Wednesday’s performance was especially impressive considering the short time period between the start of fall camp (Aug. 16) and the opening game of the season. Henson is pleased with the team’s progress.
“I’m happy with where we’re at right now,” Henson said. “I think we’ve done a good job coming in. We didn’t have a whole lot of time in camp but I thought we used the time wisely and got some things we needed to get done out of it. We had a good effort against a (NCAA) Division II opponent in UNK (Nebraska-Kearney) on Saturday and I think that really helped us out today.”
Concordia will face a huge challenge on Friday when No. 19 Benedictine College (Kan.) visits Seward for a 5 p.m. kickoff. The Bulldog men will follow with a 7:30 p.m. match, also against Benedictine, in the season opener for head coach Jason Weides’ club.