Skerston powers come-from-behind double overtime win at Midland

FREMONT, Neb. – A relentless driving rain made conditions miserable for all 107-plus minutes of play during the Concordia University women’s soccer team’s Wednesday night contest at Midland. The misery quickly faded for the Bulldogs when freshman Jessica Skerston found the back of the net for the golden goal in the second overtime, boosting Concordia to a 2-1 win in Fremont.

The victory on the soaked turf at Heedum Field pushed head coach Greg Henson’s squad into sole possession of second place in the GPAC standings at 10-2-3 overall and 4-0-3 (15 points) in league action. Concordia and No. 17 Hastings (7-0) are the only two teams without a loss in conference play.

“The conditions were atrocious. It was unfortunate that a game this important had to be played in that,” Henson said. “It was great to see us persevere and deal with it and come away with the road win. It was the first time we had given up the first goal in a game. Down 1-0, we came back and that’s big.”

The Bulldogs appeared headed for a third-straight GPAC draw until Skerston surfaced with her second goal of the game and team-leading 14th of the season. In the 108th minute, Skerston played a nice feed from senior Meredith Hein for her fifth game-winning goal on the year.

It was the third mulit-goal game of the season for the St. Charles, Mo., native, who ranks second among all GPAC players with her 14 goals. She returned to the starting lineup after sitting out much of the double overtime draw with Northwestern four days ago. As Henson said, “Obviously having Jess back helps.”

The pouring rain played a role in the limited number of offensive threats posed by either team. Concordia finished with a 12-9 advantage in shots on a wet and slippery night.

“Even before warm ups the rain was coming hard and fast,” Henson said. “It never let up until overtime. We expected it to be tough going and sloppy. It was rough sledding so we didn’t expect a whole lot of goals.”

After getting down 1-0, the Bulldogs equalized in the 54th minute when Skerston got behind the defense and nailed a shot from the center of the box. That ended a Concordia scoring drought that spanned more than 200 minutes going back to Emmalynn Rodriguez’s 47th-minute goal in last week’s 1-1 draw at Nebraska Wesleyan.

The Warriors (11-4, 4-3 GPAC) got on the board first in the 37th minute when Cassie Cattabiani chased down a free kick that hit the cross bar. Cattabiani punched in the goal from right in front of the net for her fifth score of the season.

The Warriors had one last opportunity late in regulation with a corner kick that goalkeeper Chrissy Lind corralled. Lind finished with three saves.

With 10 wins on the season, the Bulldogs have reached double figures for the first time since the 2006 team went 10-7-1 overall. No Concordia team had even been unbeaten in conference play after seven league games until this season.

Wednesday’s triumph also bumped the Bulldogs to 6-1-2 on the road, giving them the most away victories of any GPAC team.

The Bulldogs hit the road again on Saturday when they play Briar Cliff (10-2-2, 4-1-2 GPAC) in Sioux City, Iowa, at 1 p.m. in a battle of teams separated by a single point in the standings. Concordia had positive results versus the Chargers last season as they earned a 3-1 home victory in their meeting on Oct. 26, 2013. The Bulldogs then got past Briar Cliff in the GPAC quarterfinals by winning a penalty kick shootout.

“It was a big win in chasing that top-four finish in the conference,” Henson said after Wednesday’s victory. “We beat a team that we had been tied with or just behind all season. We have another big one on Saturday.”