Martinez goal, clean sheet pushes gritty Dawgs up GPAC standings

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 13, 2021 in Women's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – Every time out, this Concordia University Women’s Soccer team keeps you on pins and needles. Yet another close call came down to an early second half goal from Mikeila Martinez as the Bulldogs celebrated a 1-0 win over visiting College of Saint Mary on Wednesday (Oct. 13). On a chilly and breezy evening, Concordia improved its home mark to 5-1-1.

Head Coach Thomas Goines’ squad will be working on locking up a spot in the GPAC tournament over the second half of October. At least for the moment, the Bulldogs (7-4-2, 4-2-2 GPAC) stand in third place with 14 points towards the conference standings.

“I think we did a good job trying to stay true to who we are,” Goines said. “We did a pretty good job holding onto the ball and maintaining what we wanted to do the entire match. Certainly College of Saint Mary is well-coached and they’re having a good year. They have athletes up front that challenged our back line consistently. We held to our game plan and it worked out in the end. A lot of our upperclassmen showed very strong.”

One week earlier at Bulldog Stadium, Concordia celebrated Madeline Haugen’s golden goal to beat Morningside. In this instance, Haugen played a ball through to fellow California native Martinez in the 51st minute. After getting in behind the Flames defenders, Martinez simply tapped the ball past the drawn-out keeper. It marked Martinez’s third goal this season and 12th of her career (five career game-winners).

Talk about living on the edge. The Bulldogs have played in seven straight conference games that have either been decided by one-goal margins or in draws (three have gone to overtime). It’s safe to say Concordia has gotten accustomed to the nail-biters.

Said Martinez, “It just shows that we have grit, that we’re fighting for the whole 90 and just trying to get that goal. We’re going to compete – and everyone’s got to watch out for Concordia.”

The Bulldogs had the better of possession overall and enjoyed a shot advantage of 14-7 (11-4 in shots on goal). At keeper, Kalie Ward collected four saves while earning the clean sheet. Concordia blanked CSM while shuffling the back line a bit. The Bulldogs still have all-conference standouts Allee Downing and Grace Soenksen to lean upon in the back. They helped keep the Flames’ Abbey Wilson (10 goals this season) from getting loose.

“That’s been our character for the last two years, since I’ve been here,” Goines said. “We don’t necessarily have the highest-powered offense, but we do a good job of defending, organizing and keeping the ball. The girls just have a grit about them. They don’t like to lose. They don’t want to lose. That competitiveness about them has allowed them to have the success they’ve had over the last few years.”

After the top two teams in the GPAC (Briar Cliff and Jamestown), the standings are a muddled mess. As the current third-place team, Concordia is one of seven squads separated by only four points. Four games remain on the regular season slate for Goines’ crew. CSM (6-6-1, 4-3 GPAC) is now tied for sixth with 12 points.

The Bulldogs will renew their rivalry with Hastings (8-4-1, 4-3-1 GPAC) on Saturday when the two teams square off at 5:30 p.m. CT from Lloyd Wilson Field. Concordia won last season’s matchup in Seward, 1-0. In the not-so-distant past, the two programs met up in the 2017 and 2018 GPAC tournament championship games.