ORANGE CITY, Iowa – Though Northwestern entered the weekend with an uncharacteristically rough overall record, the Concordia University women’s soccer team could not have expected a win in Orange City, Iowa, to be easy. In the GPAC era (2000-present), the program had never left the town victorious. That changed with a 3-1 Bulldog win on Saturday evening (Sept. 22).
Sixth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad has taken care of business in its first two GPAC contests and is now 5-1-2 overall and 2-0 in conference play. Concordia is 16-0-1 over its past 17 GPAC regular-season outings.
“We’ve been intentional about coming out with positive energy from the opening whistle. I thought we really did that today,” Henson said. “We played well. It was probably our closest thing to playing a full 90 minutes. I thought we played well in all aspects of the game today. We did all the little things that we ask them to do.”
Fresh off a hat trick in the 6-0 win over College of Saint Mary on Wednesday, junior Brynn Suddeth made her first career start on Saturday. She answered the call by getting the Bulldogs on the board with an 11th-minute goal. Concordia essentially played in the lead the rest of the way.
Only briefly could the Red Raiders (1-7, 0-2 GPAC) celebrate a 27th-minute goal by Paige Drenth. Only about 30 seconds later, the Bulldogs were mobbing Maria Deeter for what ultimately proved to be the game winner. Even in a game in which Concordia was the clear aggressor (18-8 shot advantage), it took a while before it could finally enjoy a lead of more than a single goal.
The emergence of Suddeth and junior Becky Freeman is one of the biggest stories of late. Freeman notched a goal for the third-straight game when she found the back of the net (assisted by Taylor Roby) in the 58th minute. The Bulldogs continue to find ways to put away goals with a balanced team effort.
“She is seizing her opportunities,” Henson said of Suddeth. “I think she’s really coming into her own right now in terms of being the player she’s capable of being for us. I’m real pleased with her effort. Freeman gets on the board as well. Those are two players we’re hoping will continue to trend up and be a threat up front when they’re in there together.”
Henson also credited Deeter for doing the dirty work in the middle of the field along with sophomore Michaela Twito. He also commended the likes of Lauren Martin (national assists leader) and the back four, which has featured Tori Cera and Cheyenne Smith as center backs. They helped limit Northwestern to three shots on goal, keeping goalkeeper Lindsey Carley clean.
The Red Raiders recently picked up their first win of the season (2-1 at York College), but have played a strong schedule. They opened GPAC play on Wednesday with a 4-1 home loss to Jamestown.
Another trip directed northwest will come on Wednesday (Sept. 26) when the Bulldogs go head-to-head with Morningside (3-3-1, 2-0 GPAC) in Sioux City, Iowa. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. CT. The two programs met each other in GPAC championship games in 2015 and 2016 and in last year’s conference quarterfinals. Concordia defeated the Mustangs twice in 2017.