Postseason hopes on the line as Bulldogs set to wrap up regular season on Wednesday

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 24, 2022 in Women's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – Both sides will be treating it like a playoff game on Wednesday night when the Concordia University Women’s Soccer team welcomes Doane to Bulldog Stadium. The Bulldogs and Tigers are in the hunt for the six through eight spots in the GPAC standings with the regular season set to conclude this week. Head Coach Thomas Goines’ squad currently resides in a tie for sixth place in the GPAC. Where many league teams have two games to play this week, Concordia (9-5-2, 4-5-2 GPAC) will have a bye this Saturday.

This Week

Wednesday, Oct. 26 vs. Doane (7-7-2, 4-5-1 GPAC), 5:30 p.m.
--Live Webcast/Stats | Location: Bulldog Stadium (Seward, Neb.)

Saturday, Oct. 29 – Bye

By the numbers

·        The Bulldog program has reached the GPAC tournament in each of the previous 13 seasons (missed the postseason most recently in 2008). The current standings remain muddled as the likes of Concordia (14 points), Morningside (14 points), Doane (13 points), College of Saint Mary (12 points) and Presentation (11 points) fight for the sixth through eight seeds in the GPAC tournament. Things will clear up a bit after Wednesday night. If the Bulldogs can hold off Doane at home, they would be a near lock to finish top eight. All Concordia wants is a shot. Its veteran players were part of the 2020 GPAC tournament title run.

·        The series with Doane has been a lopsided one in recent years as the Bulldogs have taken each of the past nine meetings. Several of the matchups have been blowouts with Concordia winning 7-0 in 2020, 5-0 in 2018 and 5-0 in 2016. The Tigers’ most recent win in the series occurred in 2013 by a 3-1 score. Doane once held a commanding lead in the all-time series that now favors the Tigers just barely, 16-15. Last season’s meeting was a competitive one with the Bulldogs taking it, 1-0, on the strength of Michaela Twito’s goal in the 44th minute.

·        Based on how league play has transpired, the Bulldogs knew they would have to play close to flawless in order to beat Briar Cliff last week. The Chargers showed some flair on the attack in building a 2-0 lead by halftime. An own goal put the contest completely out of reach and allowed Briar Cliff (11-1-3, 9-0-1 GPAC) to remain unbeaten within the conference. One of the biggest highlights of the second half for the Bulldogs was a diving save made by Kalie “Rocket” Ward at the 75-minute mark. It was still a two-goal game at the time. The Chargers outshot Concordia, 10-4, although the Bulldogs had a slight edge in corners, 3-2.

·        The mid-week loss basically made the match at Presentation a ‘must have.’ Concordia rose to the challenge, particularly in its defensive play in limiting the Saints (6-5-3, 3-5-2 GPAC) to three total shots. The Bulldogs just had to find that one goal, which they did in the 24th minute courtesy of freshman Savannah Andrews, a native of Gretna, Neb. She was assisted by fellow freshman Niah Kirchner. As part of the shutout (the team’s eighth this season), Ward made three saves. Andrews led all players in the game with two shots on goal.

·        Youth in the attack has shown up during GPAC play as Concordia has relied upon gritty defensive play to keep close with some of the league’s top teams. The Bulldogs have not scored more than one goal in a game since their 5-0 home win over Dakota Wesleyan on Oct. 1. There have been four games decided by 1-0 scores during the month of October, including wins over College of Saint Mary and Presentation and losses to Jamestown and Hastings. Overall this season, Concordia has tallied 30 goals while surrendering 15. Talented freshman Kierstynn Garner has been stuck on seven goals since last scoring at Mount Marty on Sept. 17.

The opponent

Doane has made a big leap forward after finishing 2021 at 3-13-1 overall (1-10-1 GPAC). Head Coach Jennifer Kennedy-Croft’s squad finds itself with a chance to play in the postseason in 2022. It’s been a topsy-turvy ride through conference play as the Tigers have posted wins over teams like Dordt and College of Saint Mary and have also been routed by the likes of Morningside, 3-0, Hastings, 6-1, and Midland, 4-0. On the season, Doane has scored 29 goals and has allowed 30. Four different Tiger players have five or more goals this season: Michaela Thompson (six), Lexi Torok (six), Celeste Galvan (five) and McKenna Rathbun (five).

Next week

The GPAC tournament will get underway with the quarterfinals on Wednesday, Nov. 2. The semifinals will follow on Nov. 5 with the championship game slated for Nov. 10.