SEWARD, Neb. – For the second time in six seasons, the Concordia University women’s soccer team shocked a ranked Hastings squad on the turf inside Bulldog Stadium. The Bulldogs used their typically stifling defensive effort to knock off the 16th-ranked Broncos, 2-1, on Wednesday night. The win pulls head coach Greg Henson’s squad even with the 2004 Bulldogs for the most victories (11) in program history.
In taking out a Hastings (13-3-1, 8-1 GPAC) team that had outscored its GPAC opponents by a combined score of 26-2 entering play, Concordia (11-2-4, 5-0-4 GPAC) put itself in prime position to claim second place, where it currently sits with 19 league points.
A joyous Bulldog squad roared when Henson told his team after the game, “we’re the only undefeated team in the GPAC.”
It’s difficult to understate a win over an opponent that has dominated the league and had won 20-straight games against conference opponents.
“It was a big win for us as a team and as a program,” Henson said. “They’re a good team. Hats off to Hastings on what they’ve done this season and over the course of the last few years.
“We just wanted to come out and put in a good collective team effort tonight like we talked about in the locker room before the game. I told the girls that if we do the little things that we need to do we’d be there at the end of the game.”
While seniors Meredith Hein and Marcie Sindt came through in the goal-scoring department, Concordia’s defensive effort gets a gold star for containing a powerful Bronco attack that entered the night leading the GPAC with an average of nearly three goals per game. Hastings did not get on the board until the 89th minute of Wednesday’s contest.
“Again, it was just a collective team effort,” Henson said. “From the back forward, we wanted to work as a group of 11 in our defensive shape and posture. We wanted to also try and get forward as much as possible to put a little pressure on them.”
Already leading 1-0, the Bulldogs pushed across a second goal when Sindt attacked in a scramble situation following a free kick. On the play, Hastings goalkeeper Mallory Taylor deflected Jeannelle Condame’s roughly 30-yard free kick off the crossbar. Sindt then tucked the ball inside the left post in the 62nd minute for her third goal of the season.
Earlier on a strange play that saw Taylor leave the goal unprotected, senior Meredith Hein punched the ball off the head of a Hastings defender and into the back of the net for a 1-0 Bulldog lead in the 21st minute. Hein’s second goal of the season marked just the second time all season that the Broncos trailed in a conference game.
More importantly, Concordia went on to hand Hastings its first conference loss.
“Obviously it feels really good,” Hein said. “We worked really hard for this and we’ve been waiting for this game. We went out there knowing that we have to compete the best we can and play our game and not just to hang with them.”
Even up 2-0, the Bulldogs continued to attack. Leading goal scorer Jessica Skerston fired off a clean look in the 85th minute, but Taylor made the routine save. Hastings finished with a slight 16-14 shot advantage.
Sophomore goalkeeper Chrissy Lind ensured that Concordia took the lead to the half by making a diving save to her right on a shot from Michaela Vadeboncoeur late in the first half. Lind made six saves and fell just short of recording her eighth shutout of the season. The Broncos have been blanked only once in 2014.
The Bulldogs will play host for their regular-season finale on Saturday when Dakota Wesleyan (8-8-1, 4-4-1 GPAC) visits Seward for a 1 p.m. kickoff. With Briar Cliff just a point behind, Concordia will need a win to guarantee a second-place finish. In last season’s meeting with Dakota Wesleyan, Concordia came away with a 2-1 victory in Mitchell, S.D.