Skerston scores twice to round out 2-0 Colorado trip

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – A pair of Jessica Skerston goals in the second half helped the 21st-ranked Concordia University women’s soccer team pull away from host Johnson & Wales University (Colo.) at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo., on Sunday afternoon. With the 3-0 victory, the Bulldogs improved to 6-1 overall and equaled the 2014 GPAC tournament champion squad for the best seven-game start in program history.

A day earlier, third-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad defeated Sterling College, 2-1, in a battle that took place on a neutral field. Concordia is a perfect 3-0 away from home this season.

“Our goal coming into the weekend was to be 6-1 heading into conference play,” Henson said. “It’s good to get away from home and have an opportunity for some team bonding and pick up two quality wins.

“Today it took a little bit to settle in, but once we did it became a bit easier. We did some good things. We managed the game and preserved the shutout, which we weren’t able to do yesterday.”

It took more than 40 minutes for the floodgates to finally open against the winless Wildcats (0-7). In the 43rd minute, freshman Maddie Otten came off the bench and quickly got on the board with her first career goal. She was played through for a breakaway by sophomore Esther Soenksen, who recorded her third assist of the season.

Then in the second half, Skerston got loose for her fourth and fifth goals on the year. Freshman Ashley Martin assisted Skerston in the 55th minute on a score that the St. Charles, Mo., native tucked into the top right corner of the goal.

In the 87th minute, Skerston put the game out of reach by converting on a penalty kick opportunity for her 22nd career collegiate goal. Last season she topped the Bulldogs with 17 tallies.

In goal, Chrissy Lind made a trio of saves on the way to extending her program record career shutout total to 15. As a team, the Bulldogs have posted three shutouts this season.

After creating only five shots in the first half, Concordia fired nine shots (five on goal) over the game’s final 45 minutes. The Bulldogs finished with a 14-9 shot advantage over Johnson & Wales, a NAIA Independent squad.

Skerston and company now set their sights on the opening of conference play. The Bulldogs will travel to Orange City, Iowa, to challenge Northwestern (3-3-1, 0-0 GPAC) on Saturday (Sept. 26) for a 5 p.m. kickoff. Concordia owns a record of 9-0-4 over its last 13 games versus GPAC opponents.

The Bulldogs have stated their case to retain a national ranking. They own a win over No. 16 Bellevue University and have outscored their opponents by a combined total of 24-7. The first NAIA coaches’ poll since the preseason edition (Aug. 18) will be released on Tuesday.