HASTINGS, Neb. – The Bulldog women’s soccer team’s bid to pull another upset and advance to the GPAC championship game fell short on Tuesday night in Hastings. The Broncos showed why they are receiving votes in the national poll in bouncing Concordia from the GPAC tournament by a 3-0 decision. Head coach Greg Henson’s bunch ends its season with a record of 9-9-2 overall, including a 5-5 GPAC mark.
Even on a blistering cold night in Hastings, the second-seeded Broncos simply had too much firepower.
“Hastings is a very good team and a very powerful offensive team,” Henson said. “They lead the league in goals scored so our decisions going in were to play with a defensive strategy to make sure we limited the amount of quality chances we gave them. We were very successful with that in the last game (at Hastings on Oct. 30) and we were successful with that again in the first half tonight.”
Concordia’s tactical approach allowed it to push Hastings (15-4-2) to the limit in a double overtime loss during the regular season and again in the early-going on Tuesday night. With Concordia sagging numbers back into the defensive half, Hastings could not crack the scoreboard until the 34th minute when a Megan Kruse goal made it 1-0.
Henson felt like his team still had a chance, but the margin for error had been slashed razor thin. Bronco top goal scorer Amanda Olson stepped up and drilled a bomb in the 46th minute that forced Concordia to change its approach down 2-0.
“We lost track of her and you can’t do that,” Henson said. “She scored a great goal. The game changed from there and we had to start pushing.”
The Broncos put the game out of reach with a 50th-minute from Maddie Michalek as Hastings equaled its season average of 3.0 goals per game.
The Bulldogs only mustered two shots on frame and both were denied by Hastings’ goalkeeper Brittany Toth. The Broncos ended up with a 25-9 advantage in shots.
Concordia freshman keeper Chrissy Lind, named the GPAC Defensive Player of the Week on Tuesday afternoon, faced significant pressure and came through with nine saves.
For the second time in the past three seasons, the Bulldogs’ campaign comes to an end in the semifinals at the hands of league heavyweight Hastings. Considering the transformation under the direction of a new coach and the dearth of injuries suffered early in the year, the Bulldogs produced a solid season.
“When I walked into Concordia in July this year, I really had no idea what to expect from the team that I inherited,” Henson said. “I inherited 100 percent of the roster. At the end of the game I told them sincerely that I was extremely proud of their efforts this year and that they need to be proud of their efforts.
“If you looked at the team that we walked out in the first game of the year to the team that we walked out in the last game of the year, you’d see a lot of growth. And that’s going to continue here. The Concordia women’s soccer program is going to move forward from here.”
The Bulldogs will say goodbye to a group of five seniors, including standouts Jordan Donohoue and Emily Fleming – who were major reasons for the team’s late-season run. However, several key figures will be back in the fold, including their top goal scorer (Rachel Mussell) and goalkeeper (Lind). In addition the freshman trio of Megan Brunssen, Kristin Manley and Jordan McCoy combined for 57 games played and 41 starts in 2013.