Blowout of Grace extends win streak to three

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 7, 2016 in Women's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – Freshman Sami Birmingham has found Bulldog Stadium to her liking. She needed less than 11 minutes to record her second multi-goal game over the past three outings. Her firepower up top helped the Concordia University women’s soccer team to a 5-0 victory over visiting Grace University on Wednesday night.

The Bulldogs are now 3-0 on their current stretch of four-straight home contests. Concordia improved to 3-1-1 overall this season while fourth-year head coach Greg Henson picked up his 40th career victory.

“We’re still trying to work out some kinks of our own and some of the things we want to do as far as repositioning some players and things of that nature,” Henson said. “We wanted to make sure we got a lot of players minutes again. Being able to get everybody who was healthy and available some minutes is going to be vital for us down the road. From that aspect I’m very pleased.”

Birmingham was one of four Bulldog goal scorers as part of another landslide. Technically skilled, Birmingham stole the ball from a defender, played a touch past a second defender and drilled a shot from 15 yards out inside the left post, giving her a second goal in 10-and-a-half minutes. Less than a minute later, Concordia made it a comfortable 3-0 lead with Leigha McConnell’s first career goal, assisted by Lauren Martin.

Veterans Jessica Skerston (43’) and Esther Soenksen (’46) piled on to make it a runaway. Moved to the midfield, Skerston recorded her first goal of 2016 and 28th of her career. Meanwhile, Soenksen netted her third goal of her junior campaign and 19th of her career.

A native of Johnston, Iowa, Birmingham could see her name rise up the school’s goal-scoring charts if she continues her play of late.

“It’s really different than high school,” Birmingham said. “It’s a lot of competition, but I just try my best every day through practice and games. It’s worked out well for me.”

The Royals (0-6) are still seeking their first goal of the 2016 season. They managed shot a single shot in the first half and did not put a strike on frame until less than 20 minutes remained in the contest. In that instance, Diana Estrada broke behind the back line, but failed to slot the ball past goalkeeper Jessica Knedler, who relieved starter Chrissy Lind at the beginning of the second half.

With the game well in hand by halftime, Henson went to the bench often and used a total of 25 players on Wednesday. Of them, 12 took at least one shot. Birmingham and fellow freshman Rachael Bolin fired four shots apiece.

Assists were also credited to Soenksen and Cortney Prange. Defensively, the Bulldogs have shut out their opponents over the last 314 minutes of game time, dating back to a draw at MidAmerica Nazarene University (Kan.).

The Bulldogs will be right back at home on Saturday to play host to unbeaten Friends University (Kan.) (3-0). Kickoff is slated for 5:30 p.m. The Falcons are a member of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.