SEWARD, Neb. – For the first time in program history, the Concordia University women’s soccer team has earned a trip to the GPAC tournament championship game. On Saturday evening the Bulldogs protected their home turf in a 2-0 conference semifinal win over visiting Dakota Wesleyan.
In improving to 8-1-1 at Bulldog Stadium and 14-2-4 overall, head coach Greg Henson’s squad advanced to play at league champion and 21st-ranked Hastings (16-3-1) at 7 p.m. on Thursday (Nov. 13).
“We’re real excited about the opportunity that we have coming up on Thursday and to play in the GPAC championship game,” Henson said. “I think the biggest thing for us is that it’s not enough just to get there. We have our sights set on going and competing and looking to win the championship game.”
Saturday’s game looked much like the one played just a week earlier between Concordia and Dakota Wesleyan (9-10-1). The Bulldogs again dominated possession and outshot the Tigers, 28-3, in the process of posting their 11th shutout of the season.
Sophomore goalkeeper Chrissy Lind has seen just 15 shots hit the back of the net in more than 1,800 minutes of play this season. Lind and a backline led by a trio of seniors in Rachel Mussell, Katrina Muther and Marcie Sindt have made life difficult on opposing attacks.
“It helps to have three senior captains back there,” Lind said. “We all trust each other and listen to each other. We know what to do with the ball because of the way we communicate. That has a lot to do with it. I trust them in front of me.”
Concordia struck first after a foul called in the box set up a penalty kick opportunity. Freshman Jessica Skerston then lined a shot that hit the hand of diving goalkeeper Cici Schneider and leapt into the goal in the 34th minute, extending the St. Charles, Mo., native’s team-leading goal count to 16.
Fellow freshman Jeannelle Condame set up several more chances with her excellent ball placement on corner kicks. She found senior Melissa Stine off a corner for a 59th-minute header to open up the 2-0 advantage. Condame nearly made it back-to-back goals off corner kicks when Marcie Sindt’s well-taken header was saved by Schneider just moments later.
On the other end of the field, Dakota Wesleyan threats were few and far between as another solid collective defensive effort elevated Concordia to the GPAC title game.
“I think we’re all really excited,” Lind said. “Our program’s never gotten this far before. We didn’t want to look past (Saturday’s) game. We knew we had beaten them before, but we knew we had to come out strong and finish it off.”
Added Henson after the win, “We’ll look to enjoy this moment tonight and then take the next three-to-four days to get ready for the championship game.”
Thursday’s title tilt will be a rematch of the Oct. 29 meeting between Concordia and then No. 16 Hastings in Seward. The upset victory gave the Bulldogs just their second win all-time against the perennially dominant team in the GPAC. The Broncos advanced to the championship game by defeating Morningside, 2-0, in the quarterfinals and Briar Cliff, 2-0, in the semifinals.
Hastings owns a 10-0 home record while the Bulldogs are 6-1-3 on the road.