By Taylor Mueller, Athletic Communications Assistant
SEWARD, Neb. – It was a fitting win to finish a stellar regular season for the Concordia University women’s soccer squad as it shut out a visiting Dakota Wesleyan, 2-0. The win marked several more milestones for the Bulldog squad, earning them a program best 12-win season that tops the former record set 10 years ago when Concordia went 11-8.
With the victory, Concordia moved to 12-2-4, 6-0-4 GPAC and clinched the No. 2 spot in the conference tournament – the highest GPAC or NIAC finish in program history. At 6-0-4, the Bulldogs are the first in school history to go unbeaten in conference play since the program began in 1996.
Not only did the Bulldogs go on a record-setting tear this season, but they redefined the expectations of the Concordia women’s soccer program.
“It was a goal of ours all along to be in the top four,” head coach Greg Henson said. “Once you get there, you want to do as well as you can. To finish the regular season undefeated and in second place is a great accomplishment. This team has really set the new standard for the women’s soccer program.”
Concordia was on the attack all game, drilling off 14 shots in the first half, while yielding just one. It was freshman Jeannelle Condame who got the Bulldogs rolling with her third goal of the season with a free kick in the 32nd minute, pushing the Bulldogs to a 1-0 advantage.
The second half was more of the same for the Bulldogs, who rattled off 18 more shots, but were able to find the net just once when freshman Jessica Skerston found senior Melissa Stine in the 59th minute to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.
Although there were not many shots coming her way, sophomore goal keeper Chrissy Lind recorded two saves and helped Concordia extend its school record shutout total to 10, twice as many as the previous record of five.
With so many missed opportunities to put the ball in the net, Henson noted that putting an exclamation point on possessions is something the Bulldogs can improve.
“I thought we had a pretty good effort,” Henson said. “(We) created a bunch of chances but (we) didn’t really have the drive to finish those off, especially in the first half. It’s really just a matter of stepping up our play in the second half and looking to finish opportunities. I thought the second half we play a lot better and kind of raised our intensity a little bit.”
A year ago, it would have been current senior Rachel Mussell looking to cap off runs with a goal. However, after leading the team in scoring the past two seasons, the Buffalo, Minn., native moved to center back this year. Mussell has been a key component of the stout Concordia defense and explained the formula to success that the Bulldogs exploited this season, and why it worked again against the Tigers.
“I think that defense has definitely been our focus this season and making sure that we’re all behind the ball,” Mussell said. “That definitely showed today, we limited their opportunities and that’s our ultimate goal in order to get the win.”
Though there is much to celebrate, there will be little time to do so. With the regular season now finished, Concordia finds itself in new territory, with rival Doane coming to town on Tuesday to begin GPAC quarterfinal play.
“Tomorrow we get ready for postseason play and the second season,” Henson said. “Everything we’ve done thus far is erased and goes back to zero to zero. We’ll celebrate it tonight and enjoy the moment, and tomorrow we’ll get ready for postseason play.
“It’s survive and advance right now and literally one game at a time; you win or go home. We have the advantage of being here at Concordia, but after that there’s really no advantage. So we just want to go out and do the things that make us successful and look forward to playing well on Tuesday.”
Mussell was on the same page as hear head coach, and expressed a similar though process.
“We still need to have the one game at a time mentality,” Mussell said. “We’ve had that all season but this is definitely win or go home. With Doane coming into town, we know they’re going to be a tough team, they’ve been good all season and they gave us a tough battle last time they were here and it’s always fun to play a crosstown rival. It’ll be good to know that we could potentially have a home game in the second round but we’ve got to get through this one first.”