GPAC positioning on the line in battles with Briar Cliff, Presentation

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 17, 2022 in Women's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – Critical conference points will be on the line this week as the Concordia University Women’s Soccer team hosts GPAC title contender Briar Cliff on Wednesday and then travels to Presentation on Saturday. The Bulldogs are coming off a week that featured two contests decided by 1-0 scores. Concordia won, 1-0, at College of Saint Mary on Oct. 12 and then fell at the hands of Hastings, 1-0, on Oct. 15. Head Coach Thomas Goines’ squad enters this week at 8-4-2 overall (3-4-2 GPAC).

This Week

Wednesday, Oct. 19 vs. Briar Cliff (10-1-2, 8-0-1 GPAC), 5:30 p.m.
--Live Webcast/Stats | Location: Bulldog Stadium (Seward, Neb.)

Saturday, Oct. 22 at Presentation (5-4-3, 2-4-2 GPAC), 1 p.m.
--Live Webcast | Live Stats | Location: Saints Soccer Field (Aberdeen, S.D.)

By the numbers

·        There’s work to be done in terms of ensuring a spot in the GPAC tournament that begins with the quarterfinals on Nov. 2. The Bulldogs are currently tied with Morningside for seventh place (11 points) while situated just behind the likes of Midland (14 points) and College of Saint Mary (12 points) and just in front of Doane (10 points). The top eight teams in the standings participate in the league playoffs. As a program, Concordia has qualified for GPAC postseason 13-straight years and won GPAC tournament titles in 2014, 2016 and 2020.

·        Through 14 games, the Bulldogs have outscored their opponents by a combined total of 29-12. Concordia has outscored its league foes, 15-8. In the most recent official GPAC ratings, the Bulldogs were no longer listed in the top six. A new NAIA Women’s Soccer Modified Ratings Percentage Index will be released on Wednesday. In the edition unveiled on Sept. 28, Concordia landed at No. 43 in the NAIA. Individually, four Bulldogs have scored at least three goals this season: Kierstynn Garner (seven), Ellie Eason (four), Lina Kirst (four) and Elena Ruiz (three). Niah Kirchner has a team high three assists.

·        The Bulldogs have beaten College of Saint Mary by a 1-0 score in each of the past three series meetings. Incredibly, the Flames have not managed to score a goal against Concordia since 2015. The latest meeting came down to Kirchner’s goal in the 54th minute (assisted by Lisa McClain). The game was affected significantly by strong wind gusts – the Bulldogs actually got their one goal while going against the wind. Concordia was outshot slightly, 13-10, but had edges in shots on goal, 6-4, and corners, 4-3. Kalie Ward earned credit for the shutout while making four saves.

·        There have been plenty of close battles in recent years with Hastings, which ended the Bulldogs’ 2021 season in the GPAC quarterfinals, 1-0. It was a physical and intense clash last week without a single goal scored in the run of play. Dekota Schubert gave the Broncos a lead they would not surrender with a penalty kick goal in the 31st minute. Two shots were put on frame by Kirst while Garner had one particularly dangerous run in the second half. On the other end, it was a fine night for Ward, who collected eight saves.

·        Since beginning the season at 6-0, Concordia has ridden the wave of an up-and-down conference slate. Goines has not been disappointed by the fight and effort of this group, which has had a legitimate chance to win in every game it’s played. Against teams currently situated in the top four of the league standings, the Bulldogs lost by 1-0 scores to Jamestown and Hastings and had a 1-1 draw at Dordt in a game they led with 66 seconds left in regulation. In other words, the margins have been slim for a Concordia team that feels like it isn’t far off from being a top three or four team in the GPAC. One impressive note – the Bulldogs are now 5-2-1 in away games after last week’s win at CSM.

The opponents

The defending GPAC tournament champion and 2021 NAIA national qualifier, Briar Cliff has a showdown looming with Jamestown on Oct. 29. But first, the Chargers will be at Concordia this week and at Midland on Oct. 26. The player to watch out for is freshman Mady Soumare, a native of Paris, France, who has racked up 16 goals (10th most in the NAIA) this fall. On the season, Briar Cliff has outscored its opponents, 48-9, and has outshot them, 150-53. Keeper Ruby Campa’s goals against average of 0.72 ranks 27th best nationally. Head Coach Clark Charlestin is in his second season leading the program.

Presentation first began competing as a GPAC member (soccer only) in 2018. At 2-4-2 in league play this season, the Saints are currently on the outside of a top eight standing needed to qualify for the GPAC tournament. Presentation will be at Northwestern on Wednesday night before hosting the Bulldogs on Saturday. Through 12 games, Presentation has been outscored, 21-17, by its opponents. Jayda Hammer leads the team with three goals. Head Coach John Mclean is in his fourth season leading the program.

Next week

Concordia will conclude the regular season on Oct. 26 by hosting Doane. The GPAC tournament will begin with the quarterfinals on Nov. 2.