SEWARD, Neb. – In its first official action since celebrating last season’s GPAC championship game victory, the Concordia University Women’s Soccer program carried over its winning ways. Hannah Haas and Mikeila Martinez supplied a goal apiece while the Bulldogs stifled the opposition’s attack in a 2-1 win over visiting Tabor College (Kan.). Both teams were met by scorching, sunny conditions inside Bulldog Stadium.
Head Coach Thomas Goines’ bunch is not yet a finished product, but there were a number of positive takeaways in the season opener. The Bluejays, a member of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, managed a grand total of four shots.
“It’s nice to get a win. The first time on the field you’re looking to see how consistent you can be,” Goines said. “You’re trying to gauge younger players and different combinations of players on the field. I think we went 20-21 deep today to see what players are ready to compete at this level. Finding a result with some of that experimentation is always nice. It’s a good first day.”
Now moving on without four-year starter Lindsey Carley, Concordia broke in a pair of new keepers on Saturday as Kalie Ward made the first start of her career. Ward played the first half before freshman Angela Banks filled the final 45 minutes in her first ever collegiate action. The only shot Tabor put on goal happened to squib over the goal line. For most of the 90 minutes, the Bulldog keepers watched their teammates control possession (15-4 shot advantage). It never hurts to have experience at center back, as Goines’ crew does in the form of Callie McNary and Grace Soenksen.
Concordia struck first thanks to Haas’ goal in the 32nd minute. She was played into the box on a perfectly executed cross from Katelyn Smith. The occasion marked the first career goal for Haas, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo. Then in the 57th minute, Martinez added the breathing room that the Bulldogs would end up needing. The 10th goal of Martinez’s goal was a frozen rope of a free kick just outside of the 18-yard box.
“That moment describes why I play,” Haas said of her breakthrough effort. “That’s why I work hard and everything I’ve done – it’s all worth it right there.”
Martinez and company had barely finished celebrating when Allison Cubban snuck a goal in less than a minute-and-a-half later. The Bluejays (1-1) musted only a single shot the rest of the way as Concordia avenged a 1-0 loss at Tabor that occurred during the 2019 season.
It may not have been all that long ago that the Bulldogs won the GPAC tournament title, but they now must redefine who they are. It’s a new team and a new season. Said Goines, “That’s the challenge. Winning a championship puts an automatic target on your back with everybody in your conference. We know we’re going to get the best they can throw at us … I think the biggest mental challenge is hitting the reset button as quickly as we’ve had to.”
The steamy conditions may have had something to do with the fact that a combined 45 players saw action on Saturday. All 11 starters for Concordia were returning players, including Michaela Twito, a fifth-year member of the program. Twito appeared in her 80th career college game on Saturday.
The Bulldogs will face their first road test on Tuesday (Aug. 31) when they head to Grand View University (1-1) for a 7:30 p.m. CT kickoff from Des Moines, Iowa. The two sides also played this past spring with the result being 2-1 Viking win in double overtime.