Bulldogs fall in first-ever clash between ranked GPAC women’s soccer squads

SEWARD, Neb. – First-ever meeting between ranked GPAC women’s soccer teams. Check. Rematch of the 2014 conference tournament title game won by the Bulldogs. Check. In a matchup with plenty of sizzle, the 18th-ranked Concordia University women’s soccer team struggled to create offensive chances and fell, 1-0, on the road while up against preseason conference favorite and 21st-ranked Hastings on Wednesday night.

Head coach Greg Henson’s squad won both of last season’s meetings with its perennially powerful league rival, but this time around the Broncos exacted a measure of revenge. Hastings reversed the score of the bone-chillingly cold 2014 conference title game and snapped the Bulldogs’ (6-2-1 overall, 0-1-1 GPAC) 14-game unbeaten streak (9-0-5) against GPAC opponents.

“They’re a quality program and always have been. We expected a tough game,” Henson said. “They did a nice job keeping possession. We really tried to limit the opportunities they had to get in behind us and force them to take shots from distance. A lot of their shots we weren’t as concerned by. Unfortunately on the goal they got behind us and were able to finish.”

The game’s only score came in the 58th minute when Megan Kruse, assisted by Taylor Banark, found room in the box to beat Concordia goalkeeper Chrissy Lind to her right. Dating back to last season’s two meetings, the goal ended a stretch of more than 148-straight scoreless minutes for the Broncos against the Bulldogs.

Kruse equaled Concordia’s entire shot output for the second half with her single strike into the net. The Bulldogs managed only three shots for the evening (one on goal). On the other end of the field, the Broncos peppered Concordia with 19 shots – 10 on goal – with many coming from outside the box.

The game actually bore similarities to last year’s GPAC championship battle when Hastings concluded with a 25-4 shot advantage. Once again, Lind held up her end of the bargain by turning in nine saves, including a diving stop of one of Kruse’s attempts at around the 35-minute mark. Many other Bronco chances were bothered or pushed outside the box by a solid effort from members of the Concordia backline.

Prior to Wednesday night, the Bulldogs had not lost at the hands of a GPAC opponent since Nov. 12, 2013. They went 685 days between losses to conference foes. Concordia went 9-0-4 versus GPAC teams during its 2014 title run. The streak created a culture of win expectancy, no matter the opponent.

“That tells you the difference right there in the program in three years,” Henson said. “Two years ago when we lost to them 1-0 in double overtime it was one of the highlights of the season for us. This year we have a pretty somber locker room.”

Two of Concordia’s shots were taken by junior Jordan McCoy. Its only shot on goal came courtesy of freshman Maria Deeter. The Bulldogs’ best scoring chance came in the 88th minute when Jeannelle Condame hoisted a corner kick that pinballed around just in front of the goal before trickling out of bounds.

The Broncos moved to 5-4, 2-0 GPAC with their third shutout of the season. All four of their losses have come against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the national poll.

In the first 2015 NAIA Modified Ratings Percentage Index (MRPI) released on Wednesday, Concordia checked in at No. 21. Hastings appeared at No. 27.

For the first time since Sept. 15, the Bulldogs will play host when they welcome Dordt (6-3, 1-1 GPAC) to Seward for a 1 p.m. kickoff. In last year’s meeting, Concordia and the Defenders played to a 0-0, double overtime draw.