Expectations high as 2011 women's soccer season approaches

There are high hopes for the Concordia University women’s soccer team heading into the 2011 season.  The Bulldogs were 9-8-1 overall and 5-5-1 in GPAC play during the 2010 season.  Concordia was selected to finish sixth in the GPAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll.   

Concordia advanced to the GPAC Tournament in 2010 and was defeated in the first round by Hastings College, the eventual NAIA National Runner-up.  Despite making the conference tournament a year ago, Bulldog head coach Lisa White expects more from her 2011 squad. 

“There is a history of our team running into a familiar wall, a wall that says we will not advance to the second round of the playoffs,” remarked White.  “This team fully intends to destroy that wall and prevent history from repeating itself.  There is an urgency and responsibility felt by our seniors to forge new ground this season and leave a path for their younger teammates.” 

Concordia is excited about its recruiting class, but a deep and talented returning group of starters and letter winners will lead the way in 2011.  There should be plenty of offense, as the Bulldogs return six of their top seven goal scorers from a year ago. 

Seniors Jamie Sanchez and Kelly Ross both received GPAC honors for their efforts in 2010.  Sanchez, a transfer from the University of Nebraska, was a second team All-GPAC performer.  She led the team with 11 goals and was second on the team with six assists.  Her 28 total points easily led the team.  Ross, a transfer from Montana State University, was an honorable mention All-GPAC selection last year.  She tied for third on the team with six goals in 2010.  She also added a pair of assists for a total of 14 points.

Mallorie Blanck, Jordan Donohoue and Molly Humlicek also return this year for the Bulldogs.  Blanck and Humlicek will provide an offensive spark and even more senior leadership for Concordia this year.  Blanck was second on the team with eight goals scored last year as a junior.  Humlicek scored four goals from her midfield position as a junior in 2010.  Donohoue had a strong freshman season a year ago for the Bulldogs.  She totaled five goals and was third on the team with five assists for a total of 15 points. 

Concordia also returns several key defenders from last year’s squad.  Senior Mia Pauluhn appeared in all 18 games with 16 starts in 2010.  Kayla Asche and Emily Fleming each appeared in 17 games, while Kyleah Bowder appeared in 15 games for the Bulldogs last year.  Ariel Harris also returns for her senior season in goal for the Bulldogs.  Harris started 17 games in 2010 and finished with three shutouts and 82 saves on the year. 

“Our team will have an exact balance of returning and new players,” remarked White.  “Our senior class consists of seven players, and I would anticipate that they will continue to be influential to their teammates on and off the field.  We also have a great recruiting class as well, and each newcomer has a unique set of talents and abilities that will contribute to our overall success.” 

The GPAC should again be highly competitive in 2011.  A total of eight teams finished at or above .500 in conference play last year.  Traditional powers Hastings College and Dakota Wesleyan should be strong once again.  However, several other GPAC teams should also be strong contenders in the league. 

“We want to see this team become and remain unbreakable as a family and in the win/loss column,” noted White.  “A major strength of this team is its desire to be a family first and foremost.  They understand that they must rely on each other to achieve the success they are capable of.” 

Concordia opens the 2011 season at home on August 27 against Bellevue University.