GAME NOTES: Women's soccer opens regular season at home Wednesday, Saturday

By on Aug. 25, 2015 in Women's Soccer

GAME NOTES: Women’s soccer opens regular season at home Wednesday, Saturday

 SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University women’s soccer team, ranked No. 21 in the national coaches’ poll, is set to open the season against Bethel College Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 5:30 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium. Saturday, Aug. 29 the Bulldogs will host Bellevue University for a 5:30 p.m. kickoff.

Bethel College (Kan.) (0-0) at No. 21 Concordia University (0-0)
Wednesday, Aug. 26, 5:30 p.m. CT
Site: Bulldog Stadium
Webcast: Concordia Sports Network

No. 16 Bellevue University (0-1) at No. 21 Concordia University (0-0)
Saturday, Aug. 29, 5:30 p.m. CT
Site: Bulldog Stadium
Webcast: Concordia Sports Network

Bulldogs in the rankings
For the second time in program history, the Concordia University women’s soccer team has been ranked in the NAIA’s top 25. Announced on Tuesday, Aug. 18, the poll listed the Bulldogs at No. 21 which is the highest-ever ranking for the program. The GPAC preseason poll was also announced Tuesday, Aug. 18 where the Bulldogs found themselves ranked second behind regular-season champion Hastings. This placing was the highest preseason ranking dating back to 2006. Saturday’s game will mark the first time that two ranked women’s soccer clubs will compete at Bulldog Stadium.

Returning stand-outs
The Bulldogs will be returning some crucial athletes who have raked in post-season awards. GPAC All-Conference returners include: Jessica Skerston (first team); Madison Hawkins (honorable mention); Chrissy Lind (honorable mention); and Katrina Muther (honorable mention). The Omaha World Herald All-Nebraska team featured forward Jessica Skerston while Jeannelle Condame, Chrissy Lind and Esther Soenksen received honorable mention recognition. Three returning Bulldogs were also named NAIA Scholar-Athletes.

Highest national ranking, higher expectations
The Bulldogs have been ranked No. 21 in the national poll and the team is expecting and working towards another historical post-season. In 2014, Concordia reached the national tournament after winning the GPAC tournament for the first time where it defeated Hastings, 1-0. In the opening round of the national tournament, the 24th-ranked Bulldogs were defeated by No. 9 Benedictine College. This year and every year, Coach Henson says it’s a goal to make it to the national tournament. “I think now it’s just continuing to take the steps necessary to get back there and reach those goals,” said Henson.

Scouting Bethel College
Last season, the Threshers of Bethel College posted an overall record of 7-10-1 (2-7 KCAC). The Threshers finished eighth in the Kansa Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC). Bethel College women’s soccer team will be returning one athlete, Ariel Williams, who received All-Conference recognition. Returning players who received NAIA Scholar Athlete awards are: Nichole Gabriel and Shelby Johnson. The Threshers are led by head coach Anthony Turini who is in his fourth season at Bethel College. Turini is assisted by Linsey Foth and Madison Wiles.

Scouting No. 16 Bellevue University
The No. 16 Bruins of Bellevue University have competed on the pitch once this season when No. 15 Grace (Ind.) defeated the Bruins, 1-0. Last season, Bellevue University ended 16-2 overall and 6-0 in the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference (MCAC) after winning the conference title. In the opening round of the national tournament, the Bruins were shut out by Concordia (Calif.), 4-0. Bellevue University will return the MCAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, Freshman and Newcomer of the Year in the MCAC and the MCAC coach of the year. The Bruins are led by head coach Andy Nicolarsen who is in his 12th season at Bellevue University. Nicolarsen is assisted by Amber Richardson and Eric Hayes.

“There are seniors gone, but having actually gone to nationals now completely changes what you really expect. You might say every single year that we want to go to nationals and win the GPAC conference. You’re not that disappointed if it doesn’t happen. This year we’re going in wanting and expecting to go to nationals.”

--Maddie Hawkins

“Every year you have to turn the page and start the new chapter. We say goodbye to seven great seniors who were very impactful in our program. We spent the offseason learning how to play without them and getting along without them and getting ready for this fall. I don’t know if the offseason is ever that much different. Obviously we felt a little bit better. As soon as we got back onto the field it’s back to work and you’ve got to get the job done.”

--Greg Henson