Season's first blemish handed out by Tabor

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 2, 2023 in Women's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University Women’s Soccer team looked to remain unbeaten while visiting Tabor College (Kan.) sought its first victory of the 2023 season. The results were a bit deceiving in the case of the Bluejays, who previously fell at the hands of two quality opponents. Tabor used a 16th-minute goal from Sydney Takash while shutting out the Bulldogs, 1-0, on a muggy Saturday (Sept. 2) evening in Seward. Concordia lost despite owning a majority of possession.

Head Coach Nick Smith’s squad slipped to 3-1 overall as the program’s nine-game winning streak against nonconference opponents came to an end.

“We expected that Tabor was going to give us a tough test,” Smith said. “We actually performed really well. We out-statted them. We had the front end production – it was really just the final ball. There were numerous times tonight where we put ourselves in really good positions to score goals. You have to give credit to Tabor. They defended really well tonight as a team. It’s just one of those nights.”

The Bluejays (1-2) were content to defend all night after gaining an early advantage. Concordia dominated the stat sheet with edges in shots, 15-4, and in corners, 10-4. The visitors dodged some bullets and got six saves from keeper Hayley Bench. This time around, dynamic sophomores Savannah Andrews and Kierstynn Garner were kept in check. Garner delivered a nice strike in the 34th minute that was thwarted by the diving Bench. At the 73-minute mark, Andrews had a good look in the box that was also denied by the keeper.

Andrews and Garner combined to fire off nine shots with two apiece on goal. Somehow, Tabor kept unscathed while fending off corner after corner. The final seven corner kicks of the game (each in the second half) all occurred on the Bulldog attacking end. One last shot from Niah Kirchner in the 87th minute sailed wide of the goal. As 90 minutes passed, Tabor effectively avenged its 1-0 home defeat versus Concordia a year ago.

Making her second start of the season, keeper Angela Banks collected three saves for the Bulldogs. Three-time First Team All-GPAC honoree Grace Soenksen moved into the midfield at various times as Smith attempted to get her more involved in the action on a night with only a handful of dangerous attacking chances for the Bluejays. Not a single goal came during the run of play as Tabor capitalized on a corner for the deciding score.

Said Smith, “We’re looking forward to having the middle of next week off. We did a lot of good things tonight. We played in two different shapes, and I thought both shapes were very effective. Defensively, we really limited Tabor to a few meaningful chances throughout the game. One of the things I preach with the team is set pieces on both sides. They had one corner kick in the first half, their one shot in the half, and it results in a ball going into the back of the net. That’s the game sometimes, but there was a lot of good stuff.”

Concordia went 6-0 in nonconference games last season before starting this season at 3-0. The Bulldogs were shut out for the first time since a 3-0 loss to Briar Cliff on Oct. 19, 2022.

The Bulldogs will enjoy a mid-week bye before hosting Benedictine College (Kan.) at 3 p.m. CT next Saturday (Sept. 9). Concordia went on the road last season and upset the then 25th-ranked Ravens, 1-0, in Atchison, Kan. In a strong conference, Benedictine was picked fourth in the Heart of America Athletic Conference by league coaches.