Kirchner's goal the difference in windy win at CSM

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 12, 2022 in Women's Soccer

OMAHA, Neb. – Significant wind gusts impacted the action in a big way on Wednesday (Oct. 12) afternoon in Omaha, Neb., where the Concordia University Women’s Soccer team found a way to gut out the 1-0 victory over College of Saint Mary. Going against the wind in the second half, the Bulldogs managed to find the contest’s lone goal. Concordia earned its seventh shutout of the season.

The win was an important one in terms of the GPAC standings. Head Coach Thomas Goines’ squad pushed its season conference point total to 11 while moving to 3-3-2 within league play (8-3-2 overall). It was a nice way to shake off close losses last week to Morningside and Jamestown.

“CSM is an improved team that always challenges you,” Goines said. “We knew it was going to be a tough place to play. I’m very happy to see the girls come out and find the result. The wind certainly played a factor in the match. It was a tale of two halves when one half you have a 25-to-30 mile-per-hour wind at your back. Learning how to win is a hard thing. Once you start learning how to do that, it becomes easier. The girls have grown through conference play. They know we’ve played some good teams and have competed at a high level.”

While going against the strong winds in the second half, the Bulldogs had to change their tactics and go away from a direct attacking style. In the 54th minute, Concordia took advantage of a bit of an errant service in the back by CSM. Senior Lisa McClain pounced and played a pass into the middle of the field that allowed freshman Niah Kirchner to knock the ball into the back of the net (career goal No. 2). From that point forward, the Bulldogs fended off five Flames shots and preserved the shutout.

One called upon, keeper Kalie “Rocket” Ward answered the bell. In a key sequence in the second half, the Cheyenne, Wyo., native left her feet to stop a fast break, got up and then denied the rebound shot attempt. Ward made four saves on the afternoon in the process of picking up the shutout. Credit also goes to center back Grace Soenksen and the back line.

Said Goines, “Defensively we did as well as we could. We limited their shots inside the 18 and kept them to difficult finishes. With the wind like it was, you want to keep them out of your area, and they did that well. Rocket came up with a really big double-save in the second half. That really saved the game for us.”

On the attacking end, Kierstynn Garner (seven goals this season) put two shots on frame and took four of the team’s 10 shots overall. The Flame keeper combo of Gabby Felker and Alivia Schade made five saves. CSM (7-5-1, 4-3 GPAC) owned a slight 13-10 edge in the shot count.

This marked the third year in a row that the Bulldogs have beaten the Flames by a 1-0 score. The result on Wednesday puts Concordia within one point of CSM in the GPAC standings. In terms of the current league standings, the most impressive win for the Flames so far has been their 2-1 decision over Midland.

Another in-state rivalry is coming up Saturday when the Bulldogs will host Hastings (8-2-2, 3-2-2 GPAC). Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. CT from Bulldog Stadium. Prior to the game, Concordia will honor its eight seniors: Aliyah Aldama, Caitlin Davis, Allee Downing, Ellie Eason, Lina Kirst, Kadyn Lane, Lisa McClain and Grace Soenksen. The Bulldogs saw their 2021 season end with a 1-0 loss at Hastings in the GPAC tournament quarterfinals.