SEWARD, Neb. – Despite an 18-5 advantage in the shot count, the Concordia University women’s soccer team experienced a rare feeling. For the first time in more than two years, the Bulldogs suffered a loss in GPAC regular-season play. Visiting Briar Cliff spoiled the regular season home finale by emerging from Bulldog Stadium with a 3-2 victory on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 27).
In terms of seeding for the GPAC tournament, Saturday’s outcome ended up having no effect. Sixth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad will enter the postseason with the conference’s No. 3 seed. Concordia is now 11-2-5 overall and 8-1-3 in conference play.
“I don’t know if we came in overconfident or we came in with the attitude that the game didn’t matter as much as it should have,” Henson said. “There were spurts and periods during that game where the mentality wasn’t there and we lost focus. When you do that against good teams like Briar Cliff they’re going to make you pay. That’s something we have to clean up heading into postseason.”
The Chargers (9-8-1, 8-4 GPAC) are vastly improved as compared to one year ago when they were handled by the Bulldogs, 5-1. Briar Cliff had an answer after falling behind 1-0 in the 35th minute. Neither team led by more than one goal during a back-and-forth battle. Taylor Beaulieu eventually sunk Concordia with the game winner in the 71st minute. She went unmarked in the box, allowing for the opportunity to slot the ball past goalkeeper Lindsey Carley.
Even a big day on the attack from senior Lauren Martin failed to save the Bulldogs. She recorded a goal apiece in the 35th and 48th minutes. The latter goal quickly erased what had been a 2-1 deficit. She did her part in helping to make up for the absence of leading goal scorer and senior captain Maria Deeter, who missed her second game in a row due to injury. Concordia was also without freshman Madeline Haugen.
Losses within the conference have become so few and far between that this one felt like a bit of a stunner. The Bulldogs had gone 22-0-4 in their previous 26 GPAC regular-season games. Prior to Saturday, their most recent conference defeat came at the hands of Midland on Oct. 12, 2016.
Now it’s time to regroup. Concordia has put together an impressive run in GPAC postseason play having reached the championship game four years running (titles in 2014 and 2016). The draw at Midland on Wednesday and Saturday’s loss means the Bulldogs slipped down to the No. 3 seed in the league tournament. They entered the week tied with Hastings and Midland for first place.
In the quarterfinal round of the GPAC postseason, Concordia will host the sixth seed at 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday (Oct. 31). The Bulldogs must win the tournament in order to earn a bid to nationals. Pairings will officially be set on Sunday.
“It’s literally a one-game-at-a-time mentality,” Henson said. “We have to come out with the same energy, focus and effort like we had on Wednesday night at Midland. If we do that, we have the ability to be successful … We’ll regroup and on Monday we start anew and try to put ourselves in a position to go out and win a conference tournament.”