Bulldogs thrash CSM in pivotal GPAC clash

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 19, 2016 in Women's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – For the second-straight time out, the Concordia University women’s soccer team steamrolled its opponent by a 4-0 score. The latest victim was College of Saint Mary, which left Bulldog Stadium on Wednesday evening as just the latest squad to struggle to contain the Bees – freshmen Sami Birmingham and Rachael Bolin.

Fourth-year head coach Greg Henson’s program has been a monster down the stretch the past couple of years. If the last two victories are any indication, Concordia may be gearing up for another thrilling finish. The Bulldogs are now 9-5-1 overall and 4-3 in conference play.

“I think we really rose to the occasion tonight. It was a game that really figures into the standings and how everything’s going to shake out,” Henson said. “Honestly, I think the first half was probably our best half of soccer this season. We did a great job of getting the ball on the floor, keeping possession and creating some dangerous goal scoring opportunities.”

It took nearly 10 minutes before the first shots of the game were recorded. Then the floodgates opened up. Senior Jordan McCoy got things started with a strike that hit the crossbar and then crossed the goal line in the 14th minute. Less than five minutes later, Birmingham got loose and beat the opposing keeper in a one-on-one.

The Birmingham-Bolin combo has been deadly up front. Both of Birmingham’s goals – Nos. 13 and 14 on the season – were assisted by her freshman counterpart. The final tally of the night came when Bolin skillfully played the ball behind her to a darting Birmingham, who slotted the ball past a drawn-out keeper. The pair has been tough to stop.

“At the beginning of the year we were kind of shy towards each other, but we’ve gotten closer throughout the year,” Bolin said of her relationship with Birmingham. “We really like working up top together. We hang out on weekends and stuff. We’ve gotten really close.”

Esther Soenksen’s 67th-minute goal, assisted by Birmingham, was as impressive as any on the night. She drilled a shot from roughly 25 yards out that left goalkeeper Morgan Dillon helpless. It was the sixth goal of the season for the Lincoln native.

Concordia got strong play from a starting back line that included Ashley Martin, Kristin Manley, Leah Shohat and Jeannelle Condame. They helped limit the Flames (7-9, 4-4 GPAC) to two shots in the first half (eight for the game). Senior goalkeeper Chrissy Lind, who recently recorded her 300th career save, made five more saves on Wednesday and secured the 23rd shutout of her career.

It seems the Bulldogs are peaking at the right time. Wednesday’s win followed a 4-0 victory at Dordt four days earlier.

“If we continue to do the things that make us successful, we’re a very dangerous team,” Henson said.

The GPAC stretch run continues on Saturday when Briar Cliff (7-6-1, 3-4 GPAC) visits Bulldog Stadium on Saturday for a 5:30 p.m. kickoff. It will be Senior Day for Concordia, which will honor its group of six seniors. With a cumulative record of 46-23-9, the senior class has helped orchestrate the winningest four-year run in program history.