SEWARD, Neb. – In a matchup featuring a pair of 2016 national tournament qualifiers, the Concordia University women’s soccer team twice fell behind by a goal and twice responded with an answer. A goal apiece by Sami Birmingham and Kaitlyn Radebaugh and a sterling double overtime save by Lindsey Carley allowed the Bulldogs to salvage a 2-2 draw with visiting Kansas Wesleyan University on Saturday afternoon.
The contest marked the end of nonconference play for fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad. There have been ups and downs for Concordia (4-2-2), but Saturday’s result was a positive while up against a Coyotes program that went 16-3-3 last season.
“I’m definitely pleased with the response from the team,” Henson said. “Even though we fall behind by a goal we know the game is far from over and we have the ability to come back. The game in the second half was there for the taking. You’re never satisfied with a draw. If Lindsey Carley doesn’t come up with that save in double overtime, we’re having a different conversation right now.”
Kansas Wesleyan had leads of 1-0 and 2-1 thanks to a goal from Valerie Ochoa and then Taylor Veloz. Concordia kept coming at the Coyotes (0-3-1). A key sequence happened when Maria Deeter drew a foul inside the 18-yard box, setting up Birmingham to convert a penalty kick in the 66th minute. After going down a goal again, Deeter assisted Radebaugh for the game’s final goal.
Both sides played it conservatively in the 20 minutes of overtime action. The biggest scoring threat came in the second overtime when a Demi Imbriani shot forced Carley to make a diving stop in the 109th minute. Kansas Wesleyan ended up with a 13-10 edge in the shot count. Carley came through with six saves while making her fifth start of the year.
Carley is one of several players that are either rookies or have seen their roles increase significantly this season. Another is freshman Chelsea Bright, a starter from day one alongside Leah Shohat at center back. The growth of such players will make the Bulldogs a more dangerous team moving forward.
“I just had to come in and work hard and control the backfield and talk to our players,” Bright said. “Leah Shohat has helped me a lot back there. Our goalies help with where to move.”
Deeter led Concordia with three shots. Radebaugh came off the bench and put two shots on frame, including her goal in the 82nd minute to force overtime. Ochoa was most active for Kansas Wesleyan. She took four shots.
The Bulldogs will be off until next Saturday (Sept. 23) when they are scheduled to open up the conference season with a trip to Dakota Wesleyan (4-2). Kickoff from Mitchell, S.D., is set for 4 p.m. CT. Concordia also visited the Tigers last season and left town with a 4-1 victory.
“Defensively we need to clean some things up to eliminate some of the chances we create for other teams,” Henson said. “But overall I’m pleased with where we are right now.”