Garner goal, shutout push Bulldogs to victory over defending GPAC champs

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 7, 2023 in Women's Soccer

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – It will be a happy trip back home on Sunday for Concordia University Women’s Soccer. In a battle between teams vying for the top of the conference standings, the Bulldogs rode an eighth-minute goal from Kierstynn Garner to a 1-0 victory at defending GPAC champion Jamestown on Saturday (Oct. 7) evening. Concordia celebrated its first ever win in Jamestown, N.D., having gone 0-2-1 way up north since the Jimmies joined the GPAC starting in 2018.

Head Coach Nick Smith’s squad effectively bounced back from what remains its only conference defeat, 1-0, to Morningside this past Wednesday. The Bulldogs have ascended to first place in the GPAC standings with a 5-1-1 league mark (9-3-1 overall).

“Largely, we played really well tonight,” Smith said. “It was one of our best performances of the season. I thought we controlled the ball a lot better than what we saw in the middle of the week. We were able to consistently move it from sideline to sideline and that was causing them some issues. For 90 minutes, we outworked them. Our work rate was immense. I challenged our group to win the physical battle tonight because Jamestown is a physical team. I’m ecstatic with the girls’ response.”

Smith sprinkled credit up and down the roster for the effort on a chilly (but not yet bone chilling) fall evening. Concordia held the lead virtually the entire way thanks to Garner’s GPAC leading 13th goal of 2023. Garner took advantage of the Jimmies’ high line and was played through on a perfectly executed pass by Sierra Springer. The Bulldogs wound up putting six shots on frame (eight total shots) in what became a defensive battle.

Concordia fended off 14 total shots (nine on goal) by Jamestown as goalkeeper Bradi Ore picked up her third shutout this season. She was credited with nine saves. She had help from the likes of Taylor Slaymaker, who put together her “best performance of the season by far,” according to Smith. Also on the back line, fifth-year Bulldog Grace Soenksen appeared in her 85th career game, moving her to No. 2 on the program’s all-time games played list. She moved past her older sister Esther on Saturday.

Smith put 14 players to use while relying heavily on the starting 11. That group helped pick up the slack as Savannah Andrews (11 goals) missed the game with an injury she suffered on Wednesday night. Smith also lauded the freshman Sadie Mares, who celebrated her birthday on game day.

Said Smith in discussing Mares and Springer, “Sierra came up huge for us tonight. She had a really complete performance for us. Another young player who stepped up was Sadie Mares. She played the full 90 minutes in a center defensive midfield role and she was just outstanding. She was really good winning the ball. To a player tonight, we were really good. This was a really good win.”

Jamestown went unbeaten (11-0-1) in league play in 2022. The Jimmies (3-5-3, 3-2-2 GPAC) received votes in the latest NAIA coaches’ poll. In Saturday’s clash, Miarosa Gyllenswan was the team’s most active attacker with three shots (two on goal). Jamestown has had some difficulty finding the back of the net this season with 13 goals scored in 11 games.

One of the two remaining home games in the regular season will take place on Wednesday when College of Saint Mary (6-2-4, 4-1-2 GPAC) is scheduled to visit Bulldog Stadium for a 7 p.m. CT kickoff. Concordia has beaten the Flames by identical 1-0 scores in each of the past three series meetings. CSM dipped outside of league play on Saturday and dropped a 1-0 decision at Harris-Stowe State University (Mo.).