By Taylor Mueller, Athletic Communications Student Assistant
SEWARD, Neb. – The women’s soccer squad used a flurry of second half goals to scorch visiting Mount Marty College on senior day at Bulldog Stadium in Seward. Concordia improved to 12-5-1, 6-4-1 GPAC. The match marked the final regular-season contest for the Bulldogs who will prepare for quarterfinal conference tournament action set to begin on Thursday (Nov. 5).
As they were able to maintain pressure on the Mount Marty defense for much of the first half, the Bulldogs went ahead in the 29th minute on a goal by sophomore Jessica Skerston.
Despite a lack of scoring in the first half, the Bulldogs found their groove in the second half.
Sophomore Jeannelle Condame got the momentum rolling with an unassisted goal in the 52nd minute. Just six minutes later, sophomore Esther Soenksen added a goal of her own, giving her a total of 12 on the season. Freshman Maria Deeter assisted Skerston in the 63rd minute, giving Skerston her ninth goal of the season and the Bulldogs a 4-0 advantage. Sophomore Karlee Romine put the finishing touch on the game, icing it with the fifth goal in the 87th minute.
Concordia finished the season in strong fashion, concluding with a four game win-streak. Now with the regular season under wraps, all eyes will turn to the post-season and what the Bulldogs will be able to accomplish a year removed from winning the GPAC title.
The road back to a winning consistency has not always been easy for the Bulldogs who have been through their share of ups and downs over the course of the season, dating particularly back to Oct. 10-17 when they dropped three straight games by scores of 1-0.
“I think it was about two weeks ago that we sat down as a team and refocused ourselves after our three-game losing streak,” head coach Greg Henson said. “We wanted to refocus our energies and our efforts towards the right cause. We wanted to look at (the next) four games as kind of a second season for us and with a playoff mentality. I’m very happy with the effort and the way the players went out and got four wins in a row and built some momentum going into the playoffs.”
Senior Katrina Muther expressed similar thoughts to those of her head coach.
“I think we kind of had to come together as a team and talk about what we wanted for the rest of the season and what we wanted to be as a team,” Muther said. “We kind of fit it together and decided that we weren’t ready to be done with our season.”
With five seniors on the roster, each member of the 2016 class was able to enter the game. Henson shared his thoughts on two seniors in particular in Madison Hawkins and Muther who have had significant impacts on the Bulldog program over the last few years.
“Maddie Hawkins and Katrina Muther have both played really vital roles in our success, not only this year but in the last couple years,” Henson said. “Katrina has been asked to play kind of a different role this year than maybe she would have liked when I first talked to her about it at the beginning of the season. She’s done it without question and without hesitation and has really been a leader for us in the backfield.
“Madison Hawkins is a player that plays in the center of the park for us, she plays at midfielder and might go unnoticed by the casual fan and the casual observer, but the way she plays and what she brings to the table for us has been vital for us over the last couple years for us to be successful and really hats off for her for continuing that.”
With the regular season now in the rear-view mirror, Henson commented on the mentality and thought-process that the Bulldogs maintained as they wrapped up their season as well as the importance of keeping their focus on goals that they have yet to achieve.
“That’s what we wanted to do,” Henson said. “We wanted to sit back and really focus on these last four games as starting the playoffs for us and that was really the case because we were in a backs-against-the-wall situation where we needed points and we needed wins to be able to get into the playoffs first of all. I think with that motivation and the outcome over the last four games and our experience from last year, I think we have a good opportunity to go into the post-season and be successful.”
In what could have been their final home match at Bulldog Stadium in Seward, Hawkins and Muther expressed their feelings about leaving the field one last time.
“It’s obviously sad knowing that it’s the last time I will play here but there are so many good memories here and the girls helped us get a win,” Muther said. “That’s all I could really ask for today.”
“I don’t think any specific moment will stand out for me, but I just think being able to come here and play every day with my teammates and have fun is what I’ll always remember,” Hawkins said.
Though her days Concordia’s turf may be over, Hawkins is determined to keep her career going as long as she can, though she is careful not to get ahead of herself.
“I think for us, we’re just going to take it one game at a time and go as far as we can, hopefully that’s nationals,” Hawkins said.
The fifth-seeded Bulldogs will begin postseason play on Thursday when they head to fourth-seeded Briar Cliff (10-7-1, 6-4-1 GPAC). The Chargers topped Concordia, 1-0, on Oct. 17 in Seward.