Under pressure, Bulldogs defeat Doane, lock up postseason berth

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 26, 2022 in Women's Soccer

SEWARD, Neb. – With the season on the line in back-to-back games, the Concordia University Women’s Soccer team came through. An early goal on Wednesday (Oct. 26) from freshman Kierstynn Garner allowed the Bulldogs to settle in and control the action in a 2-0 victory over visiting Doane. The result gave a proper sendoff to the senior class, which likely played for the final time in Bulldog Stadium.

Head Coach Thomas Goines’ squad concludes the regular season at 5-5-2 in GPAC play (10-5-2 overall). The 17 league points put Concordia in sixth place as of Wednesday night. The Bulldogs have assured themselves a spot in the GPAC tournament.

“We definitely put ourselves under pressure with some results we didn’t like, but the girls have responded well against two very tough opponents to finish the season,” Goines said. “Doane was playing with everything on the line for them, so we knew they were going to give us the best game they could. We had to respond to that. I was really proud of the effort the girls put out there, finding a couple goals and taking the seal off a little bit. We’re really happy to give ourselves a chance in the postseason.”

Not only did the Bulldogs keep the 2022 season alive, they also continued their series ownership of the Tigers. The series win streak moved to 10 (dating back to 2013) on a night when Concordia was the clear aggressor. Impressively, the Bulldogs earned the clean sheet against a Doane side coming off a 6-4 win over Dordt. Concordia ruled the final shot count, 16-7, on Wednesday and had opportunities to make it a rout.

Garner’s goal in the seventh minute (assisted nicely by Aliyah Aldama) relieved whatever pressure the Bulldogs may have felt against a rival also fighting for a shot at the postseason. Additionally, Garner had a breakaway shot hit the right post minutes later. The Kearney, Neb., native remained active in assisting fellow freshman Savannah Andrews’ goal in the 54th minute. A talented freshman duo, Garner (eight) and Andrews (four) have combined for 12 goals this season.

This game was as much about what Concordia did in limiting Doane as it was about offensive prowess. Said Goines, “Doane is very dangerous, especially in the counterattack. We had to focus on that the last couple of days. We knew they were going to come fast and physical and fly at us. We had to manage the ball a little more and possess. We were able to establish the ball for large portions of the game and minimize their counterattack.”

Downing and the senior class were determined to give themselves one more chance to make a run like they did in the spring of 2021 when they celebrated a GPAC tournament title. Said Downing, “I think it helps that we have a lot of seniors on the field, and I think we realized that we had to give it everything. We passed that on to the underclassmen. We had to give it our all the last two games in order to have a chance to play on.”

Doane has proven to be a vastly better team than it was a year ago (outscored 40-13 in 2021). Heading into the weekend, the Tigers (7-8-2, 4-6-1 GPAC) have put up 13 standings points and are tied for ninth. While trying to earn a win over Concordia for the first time since 2013, Doane put five shots on goal – each of which were denied by senior goalkeeper Kalie Ward. On the other end, the Bulldogs put 10 shots on frame.

Now the Bulldogs wait for everyone else to play this weekend. Official GPAC tournament pairings will be announced on Saturday when regular season action has gone final. Unofficially, Concordia will be either the No. 6 or 7 seed.