Regular-season champs set to begin GPAC tournament title defense

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 31, 2017 in Women's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – Over the past year, the Concordia University women’s soccer team has celebrated both a GPAC tournament championship and a GPAC regular-season title. Even with one trophy locked up this fall, the only way to guarantee a second-straight trip to the national tournament is by capturing a second GPAC postseason championship in a row. Bracket play will get underway Thursday when the top-seeded Bulldogs welcome eighth-seeded Morningside to Seward for a 7 p.m. CT kickoff.

The same two teams met in last year’s GPAC championship game that resulted in a 3-1 Concordia victory inside Bulldog Stadium. There will be no cakewalks on the way to a hopeful fourth-straight appearance in the conference final.

“It’s back to work and back to business,” said fifth-year head coach Greg Henson on last week’s Bulldog Coaches Show. “We want to try to stay in a routine. We’ve had some time off. There’s some well-deserved rest for some of our players.”

The Bulldogs were the only conference team to have this past weekend off. They last appeared in game action on Oct. 25 when they celebrated the 1-0 win over 20th-ranked Hastings. The victory clinched the program’s first-ever conference regular-season title. Concordia concluded the regular season with an unbeaten conference mark of 9-0-1. During that 10-game run, the Bulldogs allowed just one goal while outscoring opponents by a combined total of 27-1.

The team’s collective defensive effort has been terrific. In goal, sophomore Lindsey Carley continues to collect awards. She was named the NAIA National Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 24 following shutout victories over No. 18 Midland and Dordt. Carley ranks eighth nationally in goals against average. Offensively, junior captain Maria Deeter has been most productive, posting nine goals and 10 assists. Freshman Kaitlyn Radebaugh notched the game-winning goal in the victories over both No. 18 Midland and No. 20 Hastings.

The Mustangs (8-9, 4-6 GPAC) are no pushover as a No. 8 seed. The Morningside program has been a consistent winner and nearly upset Hastings in last week’s regular-season finale. The Broncos came up with the golden goal in double overtime to escape with a 3-2 win. The Mustangs have outscored their opponents this season by a combined figure of 38-29. Merle Bublitz (12 goals, eight assists) is their top offensive threat.

In an Oct. 14 matchup between these two sides, Concordia got a goal apiece from Sami Birmingham, Jeannelle Condame and Lauren Martin in a 3-0 win. Wednesday’s contest will be featured live on the Concordia Sports Network.

The winner will take on either fourth-seeded Dordt (12-6, 7-3 GPAC) or fifth-seeded Northwestern (10-5-3, 5-3-2 GPAC) at 7 p.m. CT on Tuesday, Nov. 7. The Bulldogs have earned the right to host as long as they remain alive in the bracket.

2017 GPAC Women’s Soccer Tournament

Thursday, Nov. 2 – Quarterfinals
No. 8 Morningside (8-9, 4-6 GPAC) at No. 1 Concordia (13-2-3, 9-0-1 GPAC), 7 p.m.
No. 5 Northwestern (10-5-3, 5-3-2 GPAC) at No. 4 Dordt (12-6, 7-3 GPAC), 2 p.m.
No. 6 Briar Cliff (10-7-1, 4-5-1 GPAC) at No. 3 Midland (13-2-2, 7-1-2 GPAC), 7 p.m.
No. 7 College of Saint Mary (7-10-1, 4-5-1 GPAC) at No. 2 Hastings (14-2-2, 8-1-1 GPAC), 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 7 – Semifinals
No. 1/8 vs. No. 4/5, time TBA
No. 3/6 vs. No. 2/7, time TBA

Friday, Nov. 10 – Championship
Time TBA