SEWARD, Neb. – Despite a slow start, the Concordia University women’s soccer team again protected its home turf while entertaining nonconference foe McPherson College (Kan.) underneath the lights on Wednesday night (Sept. 5). In a battle of teams nicknamed the Bulldogs, the home team overcame a seventh-minute goal by Emma Singleton and claimed a 6-1 win.
Both of the wins earned by sixth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad have come over Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference opponents. Concordia is now 2-0-1 overall (37-6-3 at home since the start of the 2014 season).
“We were definitely a little sluggish out of the gate,” Henson said. “We made a costly mistake that they punished us for. We have to quit doing that. But I’m very pleased with the result and the response from the players. The first half was kind of one of those games where you have to let them figure it out. They settled in and started to play.
“The result and the response in the second half really showed who we are and what our character can be.”
On this particular night, the home Dawgs just needed someone to break the ice. That finally happened in the 39th minute when Maria Deeter came crashing into the goalkeeper. Just before she did, she somehow headed a pass to freshman Cheyenne Smith for a tap-in goal. It was quite a night for Smith, who entered preseason camp as a goalkeeper. She later blasted the highlight reel goal of the night, drilling a free kick from 50 yards out for her second goal.
Smith’s second tally capped the night’s scoring in a contest Concordia expected to control. The home Bulldogs ended up with a 33-4 advantage in the shot count. As a center back, Smith would not have been the mostly player on the field to come through with a multi-goal performance.
“It surprised me a lot,” Smith said of the free kick goal. “I wasn’t expecting it to go in.”
No player for Concordia has been more dangerous on the attack so far than Lauren Martin, who assisted on a goal by Becky Freeman (44th minute) and another by Deeter on a ball that ping-ponged around and into the back of the net. Martin also scored one of her own in the 72nd minute. The Longmont, Colo., native has six assists through the season’s first three games.
Smith and fellow freshman Madeline Haugen both earned credit for their first career goals. Haugen got hers in the 55th minute as the beneficiary of being in the right place at the right time after the ball glanced through the goalkeeper’s hands. Taylor Roby picked up the assist.
The goal scoring explosion was a welcome sight for Henson, whose squad played without Kaitlyn Radebaugh once again. Now Concordia just needs to clean up its possession and return to the stingy defensive habits it displayed throughout 2017.
“We need to limit the mistakes we make that provide opportunities for the opponent,” Henson said. “We know what those are. We’ve talked about them repetitively. If we can stop causing ourselves problems and fix some areas, settle into games a little earlier and be cleaner, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
The Bulldogs will take their act on the road for the first time this season when they travel to Salina, Kan., on Saturday for a matchup between a pair of squads receiving votes in the national poll. The contest against Kansas Wesleyan University (2-0) will be held at Salina Stadium on the campus of Salina High School Central with kickoff at 3 p.m. CT.