SEWARD, Neb. – Visiting Dordt had the Concordia University Women’s Soccer team on its heels in the second half of Wednesday (Sept. 22)’s GPAC battle, but the Bulldogs dodged every bullet fired their way. Concordia’s Grace Soenksen scored an equalizing goal in the 31st minute and the game remained deadlocked the rest of the way. The Bulldogs and Defenders settled for a 1-1 draw after 110 minutes (two overtimes) were played inside Bulldog Stadium.
Head Coach Thomas Goines’ squad had begun league play four days earlier with a win over Mount Marty. Concordia (4-2-1, 1-0-1 GPAC) has gone unbeaten (9-0-3) in its last 12 games against GPAC opponents.
“Dordt is physical, they’re fast, they’re very direct,” Goines said. “It was a story of two halves. I thought the first half we did well to maintain possession, keep the game under control and stylistically keep the game where we wanted it. Second half, they made some adjustments and pressed us out. It forced us onto our heels. I’m proud of the girls for how they responded after having to absorb pressure for 20-25 minutes and us being forced into a shape change. The overtimes we played much better.”
The unbeaten streak versus conference foes was in serious danger during a second half that saw the Bulldogs under heavy fire. Dordt attacker Avril Baccam and company know how to stress a back line. Baccam skillfully played around a Concordia center back and pelted a shot inside the right post in the fifth minute, providing an early Defender lead.
An evenly played first half (4-3 Bulldog shot advantage) gave way to 45 minutes controlled by Dordt. A physical and aggressive style frequently had the home team on its back foot. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, most of Dordt’s best chances resulted in shots that were off the mark. Concordia keeper Kalie Ward made three saves while playing all 110 minutes.
On the other end, the Bulldogs put only two shots on frame all night. Soenksen found herself in the right place after multiple deflections that followed Mikeila Martinez’s corner kick in the 31st minute. The Lincoln Lutheran High School product Soenksen has put away three career goals. In the second overtime, Madeline Haugen and Lisa McClain found enough room to fire shots from around the edges of the 18.
Dordt (5-3-1, 0-2-1 GPAC) finished the evening with a 16-9 advantage in shots (13-3 in the second half). The Defenders may have felt like they should have walked away with a win, but there’s something to be said about the grit of all-conference outside back Allee Downing and her Concordia teammates.
Said Downing of what it will take to get back to last season’s heights, “Definitely focus, high intensity and playing a full 90 minutes – because we like to go to overtimes a lot. We have to keep up our energy and stay calm.”
Added Goines, “Every match is going to have to be one where we grow and improve and find a style that we can embrace as our own.”
After back-to-back home games to start GPAC play, the Bulldogs will take to the road on Saturday for a 1 p.m. CT matchup in Orange City, Iowa, with Northwestern (3-6, 0-3 GPAC). Last September, Concordia shut out the Red Raiders, 2-0, in Seward while getting a goal apiece from Soenksen and Kadyn Lane. The Bulldogs have won each of the past three series meetings.