HASTINGS, Neb. – After surrendering a goal in the eighth minute, the Concordia University Women’s Soccer team never could find the back of the net in Thursday (Nov. 4) night’s GPAC quarterfinal clash in Hastings, Neb. Just like in the regular season, the third-seeded Broncos dealt the sixth-seeded Bulldogs a 1-0 defeat. Concordia had hoped to rekindle its magic from the GPAC tournament title run it celebrated back in the spring.
Head Coach Thomas Goines’ squad made its identity this season on being a tough and gritty defensive-minded bunch. The goals were hard to come by for both the Bulldogs and their opponents in 2021. Concordia ended the season at 9-7-2 overall.
The campaign concluded with a solid performance versus a hot opponent. Said Goines, “I thought tonight was night and day from the last time we played Hastings at their place. I couldn’t be more proud of the girls. They gave their most complete game from start to finish. We controlled the run of play for potions of the match. Second half, we dominated the ball. First half, we hit the post and second half we just weren’t able to finish in front of the goal. Our team did everything we asked. We just didn’t come out on the right side of the result.”
Hastings (13-4-1) has hit its stride at the right time, but it got pushed by the Bulldogs at Lloyd Wilson Field. Concordia owned slight advantages in shots, 10-9, shots on goal, 6-5, and corner kicks, 5-4, in a contest that was played evenly. Bronco keeper Sofie Jackson-Pederson notched six saves while preserving the clean sheet. Both Madeline Haugen and Michaela Twito put three shots on frame for the Bulldogs.
In the Concordia-Hastings matchup played on Oct. 16, Dekota Schubert came through with the game-winning goal in the 88th minute of a match that also ended in a 1-0 final score. History repeated itself Thursday, although Schubert found the back of the net much earlier this time around. She was responsible for more than half the shots her team attempted on Thursday. The Broncos will carry a seven-game win streak into the GPAC semifinals.
For a side that often had their challenges on the attack, the Bulldogs went toe-to-toe with the top teams in the conference. Almost every outing was a close one, no matter the opponent. Six of the final nine games of the 2021 season were decided by 1-0 scores. Only twice in conference play did Concordia concede more than two goals. All-conference defenders Allee Downing and Grace Soenksen played a major role in those results – as did first-year starting keeper Kalie Ward.
Thursday marked the final game in the careers of several Concordia seniors, including fifth-year member of the program Michaela Twito whose 97 career games played are a program record. The senior group includes 2020 All-GPAC performers in Mikeila Martinez (first team), Madeline Haugen (honorable mention) and Cheyenne Smith (honorable mention). Haugen led the team with four goals this season. In terms of younger talent, freshman Taylor Slaymaker stood out as someone who earned her way into the starting lineup.
Said Goines, “When you look at the number of players and rotations we used throughout the season, I don’t think it would be a stretch to say this team performed above the challenges they had in front of them. We were searching for consistency from day one and our players met the challenges. The amount of adversity this program has fought through over the last year-and-a-half is something worth celebrating.”
During last season’s GPAC postseason championship run, the Bulldogs advanced past Dakota Wesleyan, Midland and Jamestown. Concordia had played Hastings in GPAC tournament championship games in 2014, 2017 and 2018. The bid for the program’s fifth all-time conference championship will have to wait until 2022.