Feisty Bulldogs hang tough with No. 19 Benedictine

By on Aug. 30, 2013 in Women's Soccer

Feisty Bulldogs hang tough with No. 19 Benedictine

SEWARD, Neb. – Head coach Greg Henson’s Concordia women’s soccer team entered Friday evening’s contest a decided underdog against No. 19 Benedictine College (Kan.). A feisty Bulldog squad played the powerful Ravens to a scoreless draw through the first half, but Benedictine finally found the back of the net midway through the second stanza on the way to a 2-0 victory at Bulldog Stadium.

While Benedictine created most of the goal scoring chances, it failed to get on the board until the 67th minute. Thanks to several exceptional diving saves by Concordia keeper Elyse Muhle and some scrappy play by the Bulldogs in the opposition’s offensive half of the field, Concordia hung tough.

“Very pleased with the effort today,” Henson said. “We were organized in the back. We wanted to counterattack out of the back. I thought we did a really nice job of that in the first half. We created some goal-scoring opportunities of our own, we just weren’t able to convert.”

Benedictine’s Ashley Washburn broke the tie by sneaking the ball into the top right corner of the net at roughly the midpoint of the second half.

The Bulldogs then adjusted to more of an attacking lineup which aided the Ravens in adding an 81st-minute goal by Colleen O’Connor.

That put the game out of reach for a Bulldog squad that mustered only two shot attempts the entire evening. Junior forwards Ashlie Sklenika and Melissa Stine each had one shot apiece, while Benedictine piled up 22 shots as a team, including 12 on goal.

That made for a busy day for Muhle, who ended up with 10 saves. She made several impressive denials, such as the two diving saves she made to her left. She also thwarted a penalty kick attempt in the second half that was grounded to the left of the goal.

“It was tough but my defense did a great job,” Muhle said. “We communicated better than I think we ever have. We kept girls marked and we didn’t let anyone have too wide open of shots, and we kept them down.”

Concordia’s competitive play with Benedictine proved especially impressive considering the Ravens dismantled defending GPAC Tournament champion Doane, 10-0, on Aug. 24. The effort was also a huge improvement from last season’s meeting when the Ravens defeated the Bulldogs, 9-1.

“Coach didn’t tell us until after the game that they beat Doane 10-0,” Muhle said. “To know that we played with a team that last year beat us bad, it felt so good. We played so well. We believed in ourselves and it felt good to know that we can really play with anyone.”

On the heels of a 4-1 season-opening victory over Bethel College (Kan.) on Wednesday, the Bulldogs’ latest performance was another positive sign that things are clicking quickly under Henson’s direction.

“Wednesday was a great result for us,” Henson said. “It was a much different caliber of opponent that we played today. Benedictine is probably going to be one of the top teams on our schedule this year. So I’m happy with the effort but we’ve got to get the result as well.”

The Bulldogs remain at home on Monday when Jamestown College (N.D.) invades Bulldog Stadium. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. on Labor Day.