2017 Women's Soccer schedule/results

15-2-4 Overall | 9-0-1 GPAC | Season stats | Roster

Life of the party

NOTE: A version of this story first appeared in the winter edition of Concordia University's Broadcaster magazine.

Concordia women’s soccer wasn’t invited to the party in 2014 in what amounted to a program changing season that altered the mindset within the locker room. A high school senior at Lincoln Lutheran at the time, Seward native Maria Deeter has a keen sense for the change in climate.

“Before I got here you got the feeling that Concordia wasn’t expected to be there,” said Deeter, who gave her commitment to the Bulldogs before the 2014 successes. “At the start of this year, I think everyone expected to be in that final game and expected for us to compete and get to nationals. Instead of it being a main goal, it’s almost an expectation that we get there. If not, we have to fix things.”

Deeter’s comments are now representative of a program in the midst of an unprecedented three-year run orchestrated by head coach Greg Henson. An unexpected GPAC tournament title run in 2014 led into another conference championship game appearance in 2015 and then another postseason championship crown in 2016. The last three seasons have produced two national tournament trips, a national ranking as high as No. 16 and a total of 43 wins.

There have been many memorable moments along the way, perhaps none more unforgettable than the thrill that took place on Nov. 10, 2016, when the program staged the GPAC championship game for the first time ever. No member of the team was quite prepared for the crowd and electricity that would greet them that night. Bulldog Stadium roared in ways that shamed the gatherings at the 2014 title game at Hastings and the 2015 championship tilt at Morningside.

When the clock hit zeroes with the scoreboard showing a 3-1 Concordia advantage, droves of fans poured onto the turf. An on-field celebration that lasted well after the final buzzer was just getting started.

“It was crazy,” Deeter said. “I remember when we went to Morningside, it was pretty intimidating being on the other side of it. I was really hoping the crowd would turn out, and it blew my mind. It was crazy. I didn’t expect that many people to come. It’s so fun to be able to play in front of all the people you know and all your supporters. To get the win makes it that much better.”

The women’s soccer program has been all about blowing away expectations. When Henson took over the program in the summer of 2013, Concordia had been coming off a mostly forgettable 2012 season that ended with a 6-9-1 record after a brief stay in the conference tournament. Henson saw more than one eyebrow raise when he told players and parents at a 2013 preseason gathering that he believed conference championships and national tournament berths were on the horizon.

Henson didn’t stutter when he uttered those words. He said them with the type of conviction that demanded his players buy in.

“That was one of the first things we talked about was competing for conference championships, then getting to nationals and what we had to do to make that happen,” Henson said. “There were a few chuckles and a few strange looks on the players’ faces like, ‘This guy is a little crazy.’ Quickly there was the buy in once we laid out what we were going to be about. It was a process. You have to learn how to win, which is definitely a skill and a talent.”

There was no championship or trip to nationals in 2013 when Henson’s first team went 9-9-2 overall. But the wheels were beginning to turn. The 2013 squad won three of its last four regular-season games (the lone loss was a 1-0 double overtime defeat at Hastings) and then advanced to the GPAC semifinals.

In retrospect, the 2014 team had more substance than anyone realized. A squad picked fifth in the GPAC in the preseason had an army of battle-tested seniors who were gritty, unselfish and unified. Above all else, the senior class, which included the likes of Meredith Hein, Rachel Mussell, Marcie Sindt, Ashlie Sklenicka and Melissa Stine, was heavy on leaders.

A first team all-conference performer at center back for the 2014 group, Mussell (now Sievert) said, “I think that offseason my junior year was really the turning point. We said, ‘Hastings is no longer going to be the only team that runs the GPAC.’ They’re going to have someone that they need to watch out for every season. I think the girls have done that since my senior year on.”

An unsuspecting Hastings squad, then 8-0 in conference play, paid a visit to Bulldog Stadium on Oct. 29, 2014. The Broncos had lost to Concordia only once, ever. That fact made this particular night even more special when Mussell and the Bulldogs celebrated a 2-1 upset of 16th-ranked Hastings.

“When we ended the game I think we were all a little in shock because Hastings had always been an opponent we could never get past,” Mussell said. “I remember being in the locker room like, ‘We just beat Hastings. We just beat Hastings.’”

Something big was happening. Perhaps for the first time in the program’s history, it suddenly didn’t seem so silly to think that Concordia had a shot at reaching the national tournament. Henson’s words prior to the 2013 campaign had become prophetic.

Players quickly came to realize they could trust Henson, a St. Louis native who had previously helped build up the girls’ soccer program at Lutheran High School in St. Charles, Mo. If Henson says something, you can believe it. That quality is one of Henson’s biggest strengths and something Mussell picked up on immediately.

“He just tells you how it is,” Mussell said. “He wanted to take the program where it was supposed to be. I think it was really cool for him to come in and say, ‘We’re going to make this happen.’ What he said, he did.”

Peaking in November has become a hallmark of Henson’s teams. Though midseason struggles have at times surfaced over the past three seasons, the Bulldogs have continually righted the ship on their way to the ‘ship.

In the same season that Concordia may lose to or draw with a team of lesser talent, it knows it can come right back and beat a team like Hastings. That’s been proven. The Bulldogs were disappointed to be a No. 5 seed making a road trip for the GPAC quarterfinals in 2015, but they never sulked or gave up. They blew away Briar Cliff in the first round and then clipped Hastings in a penalty kick shootout in the semifinals. There’s now a pattern of November success.

“We have to be playing our best soccer in November,” Henson said. “We have to make sure we’re focused at that time. The nonconference is kind of an extenuation of preseason. We want to be playing our best soccer come conference time and then take it up another level for the conference tournament. The college soccer season’s a grind. It becomes a job at times. Sometimes we’ve had that midseason lull where things haven’t quite gone our way. It’s just a matter of using those as learning situations.”

What the entire GPAC has learned is that Concordia, no matter the regular-season standings, cannot be discounted come playoff time. The championship trophies that rest inside the Walz Human Performance Complex will serve as reminders of a special time for Bulldog women’s soccer.

But it’s the people that made it happen. There’s pride in the program like never before. Though no longer in Nebraska, Sindt offered her support before the 2016 title game with a tweet that showed her dog decked out in Concordia women’s soccer gear. Somewhere, Rachel Mussell and the rest of the 2014 senior class was also smiling as a new wave of stars like freshmen Sami Birmingham and Rachael Bolin celebrated with a large throng of students on Nov. 10, 2016.

With that win came a trip to south Florida for the opening round of the national tournament. A moment at practice leading up to the second national championships appearance in three seasons brought a smile to Henson’s face. Said one Bulldog player, “Thanks for taking us to Miami.” Henson quickly responded, “You guys are taking me.”

No longer the party crashers, Concordia women’s soccer is the life of the party.

Spring update: defending GPAC tourney champs 'start fresh'

The last time most fans saw the Concordia University women’s soccer program step on the field at Bulldog Stadium, members of the team were posing with a massive GPAC championship banner in front of a spirited crowd. The 2016 group of trophy winners showcased an offensive flair that head coach Greg Henson hopes carries into a new season in 2017.

‘That was last season’ is a refrain often uttered by Henson. The dynamics change every fall and the second semester after the real season ends becomes crucial for laying a foundation for that next season. The spring gave Henson a better handle on what needs to be done throughout the summer and in fall camp to continue an unprecedented run of success for Bulldog women’s soccer.

“Some players definitely stepped up and showcased some strengths that maybe we didn’t realize were strengths,” Henson said. “And it also exposed some of the weaknesses that we need to take a closer look at. The spring scrimmages are very important and give the players something to look forward to. It gives players more opportunities that may not have played a lot in the fall. I think it was a successful three games for us. It’s about figuring out what our identity is.”

Concordia kicked it into high gear after spring break for roughly a five-week period of on-field training. The spring stretch run included four days per week of practice sessions and one day of speed and agility work on the field with strength and conditioning coach Todd Berner.

“I think the players were a lot more fresh this spring than years past,” Henson said. “We tried to cut back a little bit in some of the things that we did. I think that really showed in some of our spring matches. It just made for a team that was more excited about training every day.”

A returning captain and first team all-conference performer, Seward native Maria Deeter stands out as one of the unquestioned leaders. Somehow, she’s already halfway through her collegiate career. She delayed offseason surgery until making it through spring workouts.

Deeter does it all. She can score goals. She can defend. She can control play in the middle of the field. She’s been terrific for two years, but her best soccer could be ahead of her.

“I think the biggest jump is from sophomore to junior year,” Henson said. “Maria will be a junior this fall. We put some pressure on her making her a captain when she was still a freshman last spring. She’s done a great job of leading this team and this program. I think we share a vision for where we want the program to go.”

One of the team’s other headliners is sophomore-to-be Sami Birmingham, who burst onto the scene with 20 goals and 10 assists as a rookie. But you know, last season was last season. Henson expects Birmingham to continue to focus on improving her game and know that opponents will be well aware of her presence on the field.

“The more success you have, the harder it becomes just because everyone knows who you are,” Henson said. “When we step on the field in the fall, they will know who No. 24 is just because of the stats that she put up last year as a freshman. You just have to come back and understand that last season is last season. We have to build upon it and move forward.”

The potential for lots of goal scoring remains, but what about goal prevention? For each of his first four years at the helm of the program, Henson has had Chrissy Lind to rely upon in goal. The record-breaking keeper has graduated after recording 26 shutouts over four years as a starter. Those four years included 52 wins, two GPAC tournament titles and two trips to the national tournament.

Keepers Lindsey Carley and Jessica Knedler waited in the wings last season as freshmen. They are the frontrunners to take over for Lind. Their development this spring and leading up to the season opener will have a lot to say about how far the 2017 team will go.

“Those are big shoes to fill,” Henson said. “It’s probably been about game six since Chrissy’s freshman year that someone else has gotten the start. She’s been a consistent force for us. This spring we’ve had three goalkeepers vying for the position. The good thing is that all three of them get along very well. We need them pushing each other every single day. We have three qualified keepers that we’re looking at.”

The spring included an alumni game that gave the current group a tough battle. It was an unfamiliar situation seeing the likes of Lind, Kristin Manley and Jordan McCoy on the opposing side. Lind, Manley and McCoy were all mainstays in the lineup. McCoy departs with a school record for most career games played.

They helped make for a stacked alumni team with many recent all-conference honorees.

“It was great to see all the alums that have come back from the last three or four years,” Henson said. “The seniors have been with us every step of the way. I think we have the talent, the skill and the character on the roster and with our recruiting class to continue to do what we’ve done. We want to be a championship caliber program.”

Not previously mentioned returning all-conference honorees include Jeannelle Condame, Ashley Martin and Esther Soenksen. A Lincoln Lutheran alum, Soenksen has been another key component in the program’s consistency. Soenksen has tallied 24 goals in her first three years as a Bulldog.

The first official game of the 2017 campaign is slated for Aug. 26 when Avila University (Mo.) visits Bulldog Stadium for a 1 p.m. CT kickoff.

Defending GPAC tourney champs reveal 2017 schedule

2017 Schedule | PDF

SEWARD, Neb. – Fresh off its second GPAC tournament title in three seasons, the Concordia University women’s soccer squad is ready to move ahead to the 2017 campaign. Head coach Greg Henson’s program announced an 18-game 2017 schedule on Thursday (June 1). The season is set to officially get underway inside Bulldog Stadium on Aug. 26 when Avila University (Mo.) makes the trip to Seward.

Exactly half of Concordia’s regular-season games will be contested at home where the Bulldogs own a record of 26-5-1 over the past three seasons. During that same stretch, Henson has guided the program to an average of 15 wins per season and three-consecutive appearances in the GPAC tournament title game. In its most recent home affair, Concordia topped Morningside, 3-1, in the conference championship game.

Two nonconference home games in particular will feature marquee matchups. The Bulldogs will welcome instate foe and perennial national tournament qualifier Bellevue University to Seward on Sept. 6. Ten days later, Concordia will host 2016 co-Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season champion Kansas Wesleyan University. Also in non-league action, the Bulldogs will play for Concordia bragging rights when it takes on Concordia University Chicago on Sept. 1 and Concordia University Wisconsin on Sept. 2. Both games will be hosted by Concordia-Chicago.

Based on last season’s final GPAC standings, Henson’s squad will face some of its most challenging games down the stretch. In a rematch of last year’s conference semifinal, the Bulldogs will travel to play Midland on Oct. 18. The regular-season will conclude with a showdown in Seward when Hastings makes its way to town on Oct. 25. The conference slate opens up Sept. 23 with a trip to Dakota Wesleyan.

For a recap on Concordia’s spring season, click HERE.

Women's soccer announces 10-member 2017-18 recruiting class

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University women’s soccer program has announced an incoming recruiting class of 10 members that will join the team this fall. They will be welcomed into a program led by head coach Greg Henson, who enters his fifth season leading the Bulldogs. Concordia has averaged 15 wins per season over the past three years while claiming a pair of GPAC tournament titles during that stretch.

The new group of Bulldogs hail from six different states: California (two), Colorado (two), Iowa (two), Kansas (one), Nebraska (two) and Nevada (one). Henson believes the class includes several athletes capable of making an immediate impact on the playing field.

“This is probably the most talented recruiting class we’ve had coming in from top to bottom,” Henson said. “This class will provide us with depth throughout the lineup. There are a number of players that can come in and challenge for roles on this team. I’m just really pleased with the talent and the types of student-athletes we were able to bring in.”

In terms of proximity, Kaitlyn Radebaugh of Norris High School is the most local newcomer. A member of the Elite Girls Academy, Radebaugh just completed an all-state honorable mention season. She is also an academic all-state award winner.

“Kaitlyn has had a great high school career,” Henson said. “I first noticed her as a sophomore when we were recruiting Courtney Prange from Norris as well. Kaitlyn really stood out in that match and we followed her throughout her career. I think she’s just as excited to be at Concordia as we are to have her.”

Henson has been able to move out west and into central Iowa in recent recruiting cycles. The footprint is expanding for Concordia women’s soccer.

“This is definitely our most diverse recruiting class in terms of the areas of the country that our players are coming from,” Henson said. “It’s important for us to recruit well both in state and out of state. We’ve been traveling a little bit further west and expanding the Concordia brand. It’s an exciting time for Bulldog soccer and I’m looking forward to the fall and getting the ball rolling again.”

2017 Women’s Soccer Recruiting Class

Carrie Black
Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colorado
High School: Lutheran High School (Parker, Colo.)
Club Team: Real Colorado
Team Success:
-Advanced to the second round of the state tournament three years in a row 
-Club: won the President's Cup in 2016
-Two-year captain and four-year varsity letter
-First team academic all-state
-Honor roll all eight semesters (ranked third in graduating class)

Chelsea Bright 
Hometown: Van Meter, Iowa
High School: Van Meter High School
Club Team: Sporting Iowa
Team Success:
-Two-time club state champion
-Four-time conference champs with a record of 33-0, one time district champ and one state appearance so far.
Honors (senior season not yet completed):
-Named team captain
-Three-time all-state (second team as a junior; honorable mention as freshman and sophomore)
-Three-time all-district (first team as a sophomore and junior; second team as a freshman)
-Second team academic all-state as a junior
-First team all-conference
-Dean’s list for four years at Van Meter HS and for four semesters at Des Moines Area Community College 

Victoria M. Cera
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
High School: Centennial High School
Club Team: F.C Warriors Blue 99
Team Success
-Nevada State Champions 2013 and 2017
-Nevada State Cup Finalist 2014 and 2015
-Nevada NPL State Champion 2014
-Region IV President’s Cup champions 2016
-President’s Cup National Finalists 2016, 
-Nevada ODP 2014 & 2015
-Class 4A All-Southern Nevada 2016
-All-Sunset Region 2016
-All-Northwest 2015 & 2016
-All-state 2016 

Jennika Chapman
Hometown: Westminster, Colorado
High School: Jefferson Academy
Club Team: Real Colorado Edge Select
Team Success:
-2016 State President's Cup Finalists (club)
-2016 League Runner-ups (club)
-2014 Metro League champions; state quarterfinalist
-2015 state finalist
-2016 state semifinalist 
-2017 Metro League champion; state semifinalist
-Four-year varsity letter recipient
-Jefferson Academy most career games played
-2016 first team Metro League 
-2016 first team all-state
-2017 first team academic all-state (Metro League and all state accolades have not yet been announced for this year) 
-Platinum Honor Roll: Fall 2013-Spring 2017 (for achieving a weighted 4.0 GPA during a semester) 
-Four-year academic letter recipient
-2017 Journalist of the Year

Cassie Montiel
Hometown: Columbus, Nebraska
High School: Columbus High School
Team Success:
Appeared in state quarterfinals in 2014 and 2017 

Tori Pearson
Hometown: Folsom, California
High School: Union Mine High School
Club Team: Cap FC United
Previous College: Folsom Lake College
Team Success:
-Bay Valley Conference Champions 2014 and 2015
-Big 8 Conference Champions 2016
-Junior college nationally ranked No. 5 (Ranked No. 3 in California 2016)
-Final four state tournament appearance 2016
-Team top defensive player as junior and senior in HS
-Scholar-Athlete award at Folsom Lake College 2016-2017 

Kaitlyn Radebaugh
Hometown: Roca, Nebraska
High School: Norris High School
Club Team: Elite Girls Academy
Team Success:
-2014/15 State Cup Semi-Finalist
-2015/16 State Cup Semi-Finalist
-Two-time Nebraska all-state honorable mention
-Four-year varsity letter award
-Two-time Nebraska academic all-state
-Two-time all-conference soccer award
-NCPA academic all-state award
-Two-time academic all-conference
-Member of honor roll
-Four-year academic letter award 

Emily Sanders
Hometown: Shawnee, Kansas
High School: Shawnee Mission Northwest High School
Club Team: Sporting Blue Valley PSG
Team Success:
-2017 District Champions (beat every other Shawnee Mission School)
-Placed second in the Sunflower League (2017)
-Started every game senior year (club and high School)
-Three years on varsity; 15 high school goals (seven varsity)
-Honor roll (junior and senior year)
High school activities:
-Heavily involved in SMNW volunteer clubs (CCC, Key Club, Northwest Connect)
-Member of Murals Club, CCC, Breakfast Club, Key Club, Northwest Connect and Ultimate Frisbee Club
-Involved in various art programs (ceramics and painting) 

Michaela Twito
Hometown: Ames, Iowa
High School: Ames High School
Club Team: Ames Soccer Club
Honors (senior season not yet completed):
-Selected as team captain as a senior
-Earned a 3.9 GPA

Sarah Wuthrich
Hometown: Encinitas, California
High School: La Costa Canyon High School
Club Team: LA Galaxy San Diego
Team Success:
-2015-2017 National Premier League (Southern California) Finalist
-2016 National Cup Finalist
-2017 National Cup Quarter Finalist

Season preview: 2017 women's soccer

Head coach: Greg Henson (55-23-7, four years)
2016 Record: 15-6-1 overall; 7-3 GPAC (3rd); GPAC tournament champion
Key Returners: F Sami Birmingham; D Jeannelle Condame; MF Maria Deeter; D Ashley Martin; MF Lauren Martin; D Leah Shohat; MF Esther Soenksen
Key Newcomers: D Chelsea Bright; MF Victoria Cera; MF Michaela Twito; F Sarah Wuthrich
Key Losses: D Megan Brunssen; GK Chrissy Lind; D Kristin Manley; MF Jordan McCoy
2016 GPAC All-Conference: Sami Birmingham (first team); Maria Deeter (first team); Rachael Bolin (second team); Jeannelle Condame (second team); Chrissy Lind (second team); Ashley Martin (second team); Jessica Skerston (honorable mention); Esther Soenksen (honorable mention) 

Season Outlook
No GPAC school has won more postseason games over the past three seasons than the Concordia women’s soccer program, now firmly established as a league power. During what is far-and-away the winningest three-year stretch for the program, head coach Greg Henson has led the Bulldogs to two GPAC tournament titles, two national tournament appearances and a total of 45 victories.

The only thing anyone inside the program knows is winning. Last November, Concordia hosted the GPAC tournament championship game, which resulted in a 3-1 triumph over Morningside in front of perhaps the most frenzied soccer crowd ever seen at Bulldog Stadium.

“It was a great environment for our players and something I know they’ll never forget,” Henson said. “Hopefully we can put ourselves in position to host playoff games again and hopefully recreate that environment. It goes back to what we talked about four or five years ago when I first arrived that we wanted to get to that setting and that stage. I promised the girls that if we got there the fans would show up. I was really excited when they did.”

What’s reasonable to expect for an encore? Winning any kind of GPAC title is never a walk in the park, but Henson believes the talent inside the program is only on the rise. Plenty of the familiar names from last year, like first team all-conference performers Sami Birmingham and Maria Deeter, return this fall. The unknown is at goalkeeper, a spot held down for four years by Chrissy Lind, owner of the majority of the school’s major goalkeeper records.

Offsetting Lind’s departure is a trio of players that posted seven or more goals in 2016: Birmingham (20), Esther Soenksen (8) and Deeter (7). The 67 goals tallied by Concordia last season ranked as the second best single-season total in school history. Its prowess on the attacking end helped the Bulldogs break a program record for best goal differential (+41).

Led by Deeter, the Bulldogs have earned a reputation as a hard-working “blue collar” team that knows how to hang in there against elite competition. Somehow, they’ve always played their best soccer down the stretch.

“I feel like with hard work you can beat teams that might have more talent,” Deeter said. “We have talent this year like we have in the past, but if we can add that hard work day-in and day-out we can scrap some victories that maybe we shouldn’t have.”

A Seward native, Deeter has been a starter from day one. She’s a bona fide star and a marketable player who Henson trusts to routinely interact with recruits that visit campus. Selected as a captain in the spring of her freshman year, Deeter is a scorer – or whatever she needs to be in the middle of the field.

“It’s not just about her individual play,” Henson said. “We want her to continue to evolve as a leader. We’ve seen such big strides from her over the last few years. We essentially made her a captain second semester of her freshman year and put some pressure on her there. She rose to the occasion and passed the test with flying colors. She continues to guide this program and this team. Hopefully as the years go by it gets a little easier for her.”

Like Deeter, Birmingham (Johnston, Iowa) adapted quickly to the college game. Not only did she score often, she scored in big games. She put away two goals in the GPAC championship win over Morningside. Said Deeter, “She’s kind of quiet and goes about her business. At game time, she’s ready to go score goals and help us win. She’s a huge asset for us.”

A total of five seniors appear on the 2017 roster. Four-year players in outside back Jeannelle Condame and forward/midfielder Esther Soenksen entered the program and immediately found themselves in the starting lineup. The group also includes Abby Goeckeler, Leigha McConnell and Leah Shohat. Soenksen surfaced with the golden goal in last season’s GPAC semifinal overtime win at Midland and has been a dependable performer. Meanwhile, Condame is known for her dangerous placement on corner kicks.

Goeckeler is one of three goalkeepers hoping for an opportunity to replace Lind. The goalkeeper competition is the most important position battle looming for this year’s team. The other keepers are Lindsey Carley and Jessica Knedler, both sophomores.

“The No. 1 thing is finding a goalkeeper,” Henson said. “That’s something we talked about in the spring after Chrissy Lind graduated. It’s a big opening on our roster. We have three very talented goalkeepers that will be challenging for that position. It’s an open competition and it’s going to be very interesting to see how that competition plays out during preseason.”

Though headlined by Deeter, the junior class also includes the Martins, Ashley and Lauren. Ashley has earned second team All-GPAC accolades in each of her first two collegiate seasons. Lauren joined her sister in Bulldog blue last fall, transferring in from St. Cloud State University.

Henson’s fifth team at Concordia will be bolstered by a class of newcomers capable of providing immediate help. Midfielder Michaela Twito contributed to a state championship team at Ames High School (Iowa). Her classmates include the likes of defender Chelsea Bright (Van Meter, Iowa), midfielder Victoria Cera (Las Vegas, Nev.) and forward Sarah Wuthrich (Encinitas, Calif.).

“Overall this is going to be the deepest roster that I’ve had at Concordia,” Henson said. “We have a great incoming class and we had a strong spring season. We’re really excited to see how some of these competitions play out this fall.”

With the talent on board, Henson says another top four conference finish “at minimum,” should be expected. If things shake out favorably, perhaps the Bulldogs could even make a run at a GPAC regular-season title. That will require knocking Hastings off its perch. The Broncos visit Bulldog Stadium on Oct. 25 for the final match of the regular season. No matter the opponent, Concordia knows it no longer has to worry about flying under the radar.

“It’s fun to know that people look at Concordia as a big game,” Deeter said. “We take pride in that and in the hard work we put in to get here. It’s fun to kind of be the big dog sometimes.”

A new season is set to officially get underway on Saturday, Aug. 26 when Avila University (Mo.) rides into Seward for a 1 p.m. kickoff.

Defending conference postseason champs reel in three GPAC first-place votes

2017 GPAC preseason poll

SEWARD, Neb. – Winner of GPAC tournament championships in 2014 and 2016, the Concordia University women’s soccer program is set to kick off its 2017 campaign as a team expected to compete for the conference title. The Bulldogs picked up three first-place votes and a total of 84 points and were ranked third in the GPAC preseason coaches’ poll released on Monday (Aug. 14).

Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s program has hummed along at impressive levels over the past three seasons, winning a combined total of 45 games over that stretch. Though Concordia has graduated record-breaking goalkeeper Chrissy Lind, it returns a pair of first team all-conference selections in Sami Birmingham and Maria Deeter. The 2016 Bulldogs tallied 67 goals as one of the most prolific offensive squads in school history.

Officially, Concordia will make its 2017 debut on Saturday, Aug. 26 when Avila University visits Bulldog Stadium. Henson’s squad will then close the month of August on the 29th when York College will serve as the opponent in Seward.

2017 GPAC Preseason Women’s Soccer Poll
1. Hastings – 98 (8)
2. Midland – 86
3. Concordia – 84 (3)
4. Morningside – 75
5. Northwestern – 66
6. College of Saint Mary – 51
7. Dordt – 39
8. Doane – 36
T9. Briar Cliff – 30
T9. Dakota Wesleyan – 30
11. Mount Marty – 10

Concordia-Avila set for rematch of 2016 season opener

SEWARD, Neb. – With two weeks of practice and a pair of scrimmages under its belt, the Concordia women’s soccer program is ready to open up the 2017 campaign. After hosting the Bulldogs in the 2016 opener, Avila now makes the return trip to Seward for Saturday’s 1 p.m. kickoff. The Eagles upset Concordia by a 2-0 score last season in a contest played in Kansas City, Mo.

Avila (0-0) at Concordia (0-0)
Saturday, Aug. 26, 1 p.m.
Bulldog Stadium | Seward, Neb.
Webcast: Concordia Sports Network

Head coach Greg Henson’s squad will unveil a new goalkeeper on Saturday. Three goalkeepers, sophomores Lindsey Carley and Jessica Knedler and senior Abby Goeckeler, have battled for the job throughout spring and fall camps. Despite the uncertainty at goalkeeper, Henson believes he has his deepest and most talented team yet at Concordia. Led by standouts such as Sami Birmingham, Maria Deeter and Esther Soenksen, the Bulldogs captured the 2016 GPAC tournament championship. Now one of the powers in the GPAC, Concordia received three first-place votes in the preseason coaches’ poll.

A member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference, Avila struggled last season after defeating Concordia. The Eagles finished the season with a 3-13-2 mark. They were outscored by a combined total of 48-20 last fall. Head coach Sara Matthews’ leading returning goal scorer is sophomore Kristina Young, who found the back of the net five times as a freshman.

Under Henson, Concordia is 29-12-3 in nonconference games. Over the past three seasons, the Bulldogs have been nearly unbeatable at home, going a combined 26-5-1 at Bulldog Stadium during that stretch. Only one of those five home defeats has come against a nonconference opponent.

Concordia will also host York College next Tuesday (Aug. 29) before shifting focus to a trip to the Windy City for games against Concordia University-Chicago (Sept. 1) and Concordia University-Wisconsin (Sept. 2). Both weekend contests will be held on the campus of Concordia-Chicago.

Deeter and the Dawgs roll on opening day

SEWARD, Neb. – There would be no first game jitters this time around. Junior captain Maria Deeter made sure of it. She recorded her first career hat trick while leading the Concordia University women’s soccer team to a 5-1 win over visiting Avila University on Saturday afternoon. In the process, the Bulldogs exacted revenge for a 2-0 defeat that came at the hands of the Eagles in the 2016 season opener.

Deeter headlined the efforts of a squad that looks every bit as talented as the editions that captured GPAC tournament titles in 2014 and 2016. There were plenty of other contributors. Freshman Kaitlyn Radebaugh and senior Esther Soenksen notched a goal apiece and Taylor Roby, one of the most pleasant surprises of preseason camp, looked comfortable at her right back position.

“There was definitely some redemption. We knew we didn’t play well last year,” Deeter said. “We wanted to come out and make a statement the first game of the year.”

Roby’s hustle played a significant role in the game’s first goal. She chased down the ball just before it bounded out of play and delivered it into the box. Sami Birmingham’s ensuing shot went off the crossbar and fell right at the feet of Deeter, who tapped in for goal No. 1 of the day. She was just getting started.

Roby played a similar role in Deeter’s second goal. A cross into the box found Deeter, who slotted the ball to the right of the keeper. Roby also placed a corner kick into the box that resulted in a Deeter header that nearly gave the Seward native a hat trick in the first half. Goal No. 3 for Deeter capped the game’s scoring in the 55th minute. It was her first hat trick since her days at Lincoln Lutheran High School.

“Some days you just have good days and you get the ball rolling and the ball falls your way,” Deeter said. “I was fortunate enough to get some great flicks and touches in the box and put them in the back of the net.”

Avila got its goal on a tremendous individual effort by Autumn Saulsbury, who expertly lofted a shot that she just tucked inside the left post following an extended run in the 26th minute. It was one of the few threats at goalkeeper Jessica Knedler, who made two saves. Knedler got the call in goal in place of accomplished keeper Chrissy Lind, who completed her career last season. Knedler was kept clean for the most part. Concordia outshot Avila, 26-6.

Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson used a startling lineup with three freshmen: Chelsea Bright, Victoria Cera and Jennika Chapman. Rookies Carrie Black, Radebaugh, Michaela Twito and Sarah Wuthrich all saw action off the bench. Cera’s ability as a holding midfielder will free up Deeter to go on the attack, just as Bulldog fans saw on Saturday.

The Bulldogs will be back at home on Tuesday to host York College. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. CT from Bulldog Stadium. Concordia thumped the Panthers, 6-0, in the third game of the 2016 season.

Concordia bragging rights on the line this week

SEWARD, Neb. – Regular season action is set to heat up this week for the Concordia University women’s soccer team. The Bulldogs opened the 2017 season impressively, rolling to a 5-1 win over Avila University on Aug. 26. This week’s slate includes a home game with York College on Tuesday (Aug. 29) and then a weekend trip to the campus of Concordia University, Chicago for a pair of games against fellow Concordia institutions.

This week’s schedule
Tuesday, Aug. 29 vs. York College, 5:30 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 1 at Concordia-Chicago, 2:15 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 2 vs. Concordia-Wisconsin, 9:30 a.m.

Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s program looked the part of a GPAC contender in its first outing. Junior captain Maria Deeter recorded her first career hat trick and added an assist as part a big performance from the Seward native. In addition, senior Esther Soenksen added a goal and freshman Kaitlyn Radebaugh, a Roca, Neb., native, notched the first goal of her career. Picked third in the GPAC preseason coaches’ poll, the Bulldogs outshot Avila, 26-6. The win pushed Concordia’s home record to 27-5-1 since the start of the 2014 campaign.

York is simply looking for improvement after going 1-16 last season. CUNE defeated the Panthers, 6-0, in 2016. York opened this season with a 2-1 overtime loss at Dakota Wesleyan. The weekend will bring consecutive games against NCAA Division III Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference foes: Concordia-Chicago (10-8-2 in 2016) and Concordia-Wisconsin (5-11-1 in 2016). In the NACC preseason coaches poll, CUW checked in at No. 5 and CUC landed at No. 7 in the 10-team league.

All Bulldog home games can be streamed live via the Concordia Sports Network. For live coverage of this weekend’s matches in River Forest, Ill., check out CUC’s athletics website.

Upon its return from the Chicago area, CUNE will host Bellevue University on Wednesday, Sept. 6. Three days later the Bulldogs are scheduled to make a road trip to Lamoni, Iowa, and square off with Graceland University.

Hat trick leads to GPAC honor for Deeter

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – A first team all-conference performer last fall, Seward native Maria Deeter got her junior season off to a rousing start by recording the first hat trick of her career in last week’s 5-1 home win over Avila University. That effort allowed Deeter to garner the first Hauff Mid-America Sports/GPAC Women’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week award of 2017, as announced by the conference on Tuesday (Aug. 29). Deeter earned earned the same honor late in her freshman campaign after helping the Bulldogs reach the GPAC tournament championship game.

Deeter serves as a team captain for a program coming off a GPAC postseason title in 2016. An attacking midfielder and product of Lincoln Lutheran High School, Deeter surfaced with goals in the ninth, 17th and 55th minutes as part of the season opening victory. She also assisted on freshman Kaitlyn Radebaugh’s first career goal. Deeter has now amassed 16 career goals, including six as a freshman and seven as a sophomore. Her career assist total stands at 12.

Deeter and the Bulldogs will return to action tonight (Aug. 29) and host York College at 5:30 p.m. CT. They will then get set for a trip to the Windy City and weekend games against Concordia-Chicago and Concordia-Wisconsin.

Diverse attack keys continued home dominance

SEWARD, Neb. – Playing at home for the second time in four days, the Concordia University women’s soccer team started sluggishly and then got rolling thanks to the spark added by freshman forward Kaitlyn Radebaugh. Superior talent and athleticism won out for the Bulldogs, who defeated visiting York College, 5-1, on Tuesday evening.

Concordia continues to be nearly automatic at home. It has moved to 28-5-1 at Bulldog Stadium since the start of the 2014 season. Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad now sits at 2-0 in 2017.

“It’s early in the season so we’re still trying to find our identity and focus on the areas we need to in order to be successful throughout the season,” Henson said. “Just happy to get off to a good start scoring goals. I’m pleased with where we’re at right now, but it’s very early and we have a lot bigger things ahead of us.”

Radebaugh, who hails from Roca, Neb., has shown an ability to break down the opponent on the attacking end. Her aggression was evident upon her entrance as a substitute in the middle of the first half. She immediately fired off a shot that was saved by the keeper. Just a couple of minutes later Radebaugh celebrated the second goal of her young career.

An unlikely source produced the game’s second goal in the waning moments of the first half. Morgan Raska skimmed the turf with a shot that bounded off keeper Cassandra Martinez and scooted over the goal line. A game that featured a 24-8 Concordia shot advantage was all but sealed when senior Jeannelle Condame twisted a corner kick into the back of the net in the 53rd minute.

The floodgates burst open late in the game. The team’s top attacker with 20 goals last season, sophomore Sami Birmingham got on the board in the 76th minute with the help of an assist from junior Taylor Roby. Less than three minutes later, freshman Sarah Wuthrich knocked in the first goal of her career.

Roby seized the right back spot with a stellar fall camp. Says Roby, “I think I just came in this year with a new mindset to be mentally tougher and stand my ground. I worked hard this offseason to become the most strong player physically, mentally and everything like that. I just came in and seized my opportunity.

Henson has now used two different starting goalkeepers. Jessica Knedler got the call in the opener versus Avila University. Lindsey Carley then got the nod on Tuesday. It’s been a close battle throughout camp between the two keepers, both of whom are in their second years in the program.

Tuesday also saw freshman outside midfielder Michaela Twito earn her first career start. She arrived in Seward after helping lead Ames High School to a state championship. Twito is part of a midfield anchored by junior Deeter, the GPAC offensive player of the week. Freshman Victoria Cera (Las Vegas, Nev.) has staked her claim to the holding mid spot.

Next up is the first road trip of the 2017 season. The Bulldogs will make a trek of roughly eight hours east to the Windy City for a game Friday against host Concordia University, Chicago (2:15 p.m.) and then another contest Saturday versus Concordia University, Wisconsin (9:30 a.m.) in a battle of Concordias. Both CUC and CUW are members of the NCAA Division III Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference.

“We’re really excited. It should be a great time,” Roby said.

Bulldogs dominate on opening day in showdown of Concordias

RIVER FOREST, Ill. – In its quest for bragging rights among the Concordias, the Bulldog women’s soccer team cruised on the opening day of a two-day event hosted by Concordia University, Chicago. Junior Lauren Martin initiated the run of goal scoring while spurring a 4-0 victory over the Cougars, who reside in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference of NCAA Division III.

Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad is off to an impressive 3-0 start during which it has outscored its opponents by a combined score of 14-2. Dating back to last season, CUNE has won 11 of its last 12 games.

“We’re treating this like a tournament and we want to win both games,” Henson said. “I think we dominated the game in terms of possession and (sophomore goalkeeper) Jessica Knedler had a solid game. She had a great save in the closing stages of the first half. They caused us some problems early, but that was good for us to have to solve. Our back four is getting more comfortable with each other.”

The Bulldogs dominated in the first ever meeting between the two sides. CUNE outshot CUC, 27-11, and quickly mauled the Cougars with Martin’s goal in the seventh minute and then Maria Deeter’s highlight reel worthy tally in the 12th minute. The score remained 2-0 until Sami Birmingham slotted one in in the 51st minute. Leah Shohat added the icing with a goal in the 81st minute.

Knedler made her second start in goal. She earned the shutout while facing only two shots on goal. Henson likes the way the back line is coming along. Shohat has teamed up with freshman Chelsea Bright as center backs. They are flanked by outside backs Jeannelle Condame and Taylor Roby.

On the attack Deeter (five shots, three on goal) and Martin (six shots, three on goal) were most active. Eleven different Bulldogs fired off at least one shot. Assists were credited to Birmingham, Deeter, Martin, Leigha McConnell and Esther Soenksen.

The Bulldogs will return to action on Saturday for the second day of the battle of Concordias. CUNE will get up early for a 9:30 a.m. CT kickoff with Concordia University, Wisconsin. The Falcons, also a member of the NACC, were defeated by Concordia University, Ann Arbor, 1-0, on Friday. CUW posted an overall record of 5-11-1 in 2016. All of this weekend’s games can be viewed online here: https://cuchicago.edu/live.

Each of the Concordia teams involved in the weekend event attended a chapel service on Friday morning. CUC has done its best to give the weekend a feel something like what the basketball Concordia Invitational Tournament has produced.

Bulldogs settle for tie on final day in Chicago

RIVER FOREST, Ill. – After blowing past its first three opponents, the Bulldog women’s soccer team found itself in a tight battle on the second and final day of a weekend stay in Chicago. While playing on the campus of Concordia University, Chicago, CUNE settled for a 1-1 draw with Concordia University, Wisconsin on Saturday morning. No overtime periods were played.

Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad remains unbeaten at 3-0-1. The Bulldogs have lost only once over their last 13 games. CUNE entered the weekend expecting to come home at 4-0, but the improved Falcons made life difficult.

“We talked about it at halftime. It was the first time we faced some adversity this year,” Henson said. “It was a good test for us. It was a grind out type of game. Lindsey Carley had a nice match in goal for us. It’s good to get back-to-back shutouts. We rested a few players so it was good to see our depth prove very useful. There wasn’t a whole lot of drop off going to the bench.”

Henson continues to rotate goalkeepers Jessica Knedler and Carley with fine results so far. The Bulldogs have yielded just two goals this season. On Saturday, CUNE fended off CUW on some dangerous set pieces to record a second shutout in a row. The Falcons (0-1-1) managed to unload 13 shots, including eight on goal. Carley was up to the task, saving all eight shots on frame.

On the attack, the likes of Sami Birmingham and Maria Deeter were active. They combined to take six of the team’s 12 shots. All three of Deeter’s shots were on frame, but denied by Tabitha Ortiz (four saves).

Henson used Carrie Black, Jennika Chapman and Kaitlyn Radebaugh in a starting lineup that included five freshmen. Taylor Roby and Michaela Twito were held out of the starting 11 and senior Esther Soenksen was sidelined completely. A total of 17 Bulldogs saw action.

No true champion was declared at the weekend event involving the Concordias of Nebraska, Ann Arbor, Chicago and Wisconsin. CUAA went 2-0 while CUNE went 1-0-1, CUW went 0-1-1 and CUC went 0-2.

On paper, the Bulldogs face their most challenging task yet this fall when Bellevue University makes a visit to Seward on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. CT kickoff. The Bruins (1-2) have played a challenging early season schedule and have suffered losses to No. 1 University of Northwestern Ohio and to Northwestern of the GPAC. CUNE will look to avenge a 2-1 loss at Bellevue in 2016.

Carley nets GPAC defensive award

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – A key figure in the early success of the 2017 Concordia women’s soccer team, sophomore goalkeeper Lindsey Carley has pulled in her first career collegiate athletic honor. As announced on Tuesday, Carley has been named the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Women’s Soccer Defensive Player of the Week. A week ago, teammate Maria Deeter netted GPAC offensive player of the week accolades.

A native of Urbandale, Iowa, Carley was busy in goal during two games and 180 minutes of action last week while up against York College and Concordia University, Wisconsin. A co-starter at goalkeeper along with Jessica Knedler so far this season, Carley made 15 saves and surrendered just a single goal last week. She recorded her first career shutout in a 0-0 draw with CUW. On the year, Carley owns a save percentage of .938 and a goals against average of 0.5.

Carley and the Bulldogs (3-0-1) are faced with two challenging games this week. They host Bellevue University at 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday before traveling to Graceland University for a 4:30 p.m. kickoff in Lamoni, Iowa, on Saturday.

Nonconference play continues for undefeated Bulldogs

SEWARD, Neb. – Two challenging nonconference contests make up this week’s slate for the Concordia University women’s soccer team, which remains undefeated following a weekend road trip to the Windy City. Upcoming games against Bellevue University and Graceland University are rematches from games played last fall. Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad enters the week at 3-0-1 overall.

This week’s schedule
Wednesday, Sept. 6 vs. Bellevue (1-2), 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 9 at Graceland (3-0-1), 4:30 p.m.

Other than the 0-0 draw with NCAA Division III Concordia University, Wisconsin on Sept. 2, the Bulldogs have continued a dominant run that dates back to last season. So far in 2017, CUNE has outscored its opponents by a combined total of 14-2. Over the past 13 games, the Bulldogs own a record of 11-1-1 and have outnumbered their foes 43-7 during that stretch. Concordia has already had nine unique goal scorers this fall. Junior Maria Deeter leads the way with four goals and three assists.

In two weeks of GPAC awards, the Bulldogs have claimed two honors. A week after Deeter earned GPAC offensive accolades, sophomore Lindsey Carley picked the first recognition of her career by being named the conference defensive player of the week. Carley has shared time at keeper with fellow sophomore Jessica Knedler. The results have been positive so far. Carley and Knedler have combined to make 19 saves and both own an identical goals against average of 0.5. An impressive overall team effort has helped Concordia outshoot opponents, 89-38.

Don’t let Bellevue’s 1-2 record mislead you. Fourteenth-year head coach Andy Nicolarsen entered this season with a career record of 171-66-17 (.707). In 2015, Concordia defeated the Bruins for just the second time in a rivalry that has now reached 10 meetings since 2005. Each of the last four games between the two teams have decided by just a single goal. Bellevue has been a tough luck team so far having outshot its opponents 60-32 but having been outscored 7-2.

Graceland will provide a good road test for Henson’s squad. The Yellowjackets pushed the Bulldogs last season in a 1-0 Concordia victory. To this point, Graceland owns wins over Robert Morris University, Simpson College and Park University. Megan Kimrey paces the Yellowjackets with four goals. They have outscored opponents by a combined total of 15-5.

Wednesday’s game will be shown live via the Concordia Sports Network. Graceland will have live stats for Saturday’s contest. Find them HERE.

Two more non-league games are coming up next week when the Bulldogs travel to Waldorf University (Sept. 13) and then host No. 21 Kansas Wesleyan University (Sept. 16).

Rare home loss handed out by Bellevue

SEWARD, Neb. – In the renewal of an annual instate rivalry, the Concordia University women’s soccer team relinquished an early lead while up against a perennially strong Bellevue University program. Maiwut Dar and Reyvin Hernandez combined for all of the Bruins’ goals as they tagged the Bulldogs with a rare home defeat. Bellevue won by a final score of 4-1 underneath the Bulldog Stadium lights on Wednesday night.

Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s program has suffered only six home losses since the start of the 2014 season. Concordia, now 3-1-1, has been knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten.

“We wanted to come out and create some problems for them early,” Henson said. “I thought we did that with the long throw in from Morgan Raska, which is a dangerous weapon for us. We were able to capitalize early to get the lead. From there we kind of got on our heels a little bit and struggled to do what we think is going to make us successful. Bellevue is a very athletic and very dynamic team. They really put some pressure on us.”

The Bruins (2-2) entered the night with only two goals scored over their first three games despite outshooting their opponents, 60-32. Bellevue made its own luck on this night, piercing a Bulldog back line that had surrendered a grand total of two goals prior to Wednesday. Dar and Hernandez effectively played the role of villains. On this night, they pounced when given the opportunity to finish in the box. Hernandez scored in the 37th and 61st minutes. Dar got credit for the game winner in the 45th minute before adding another goal in the 57th minute.

Hopes for yet another home victory looked promising after junior Lauren Martin’s 12th-minute goal provided an early advantage. Martin hung close to the goal line while freshman Victoria Cera peppered goalkeeper Laurence Rodier with a series of shots from point blank range. Eventually Martin finished right at the net for her second goal of 2017.

The shots (14-14) and shots on goal (10-10) were even on the night. Concordia goalkeeper Jessica Knedler, making her third start of the year, collected six saves. Her counterpart, Laurence Rodier, turned in nine saves. Rodier and the Bruins held sophomore Sami Birmingham off the scoreboard despite her unleashing three shots on frame.

The second road trip of the season is coming up on Saturday when the Bulldogs will travel to Lamoni, Iowa, to take on Graceland University (3-0-1), a member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference. The Yellowjackets received votes in this week’s NAIA coaches’ top 25 poll. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. CT. Live stats can be followed HERE.

Concordia stung in overtime

LAMONI, Iowa – The Concordia University women’s soccer team made strides while putting behind its performance from three days ago, but ultimately suffered a 2-1 defeat in overtime in a game played at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa. The Yellowjackets stung the Bulldogs with Hannah Hiner’s golden goal in the 96th minute.

Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad has dropped back-to-back games and now sports an overall record of 3-2-1.

“I thought we really responded well from the 4-1 loss on Wednesday,” Henson said. “The question was how were we going to respond as a group. We came out and put pressure on them early. In the second half we stressed getting the ball on the floor and just playing better soccer. The first half was a little bit sloppy. I thought we definitely had the better of the play in the second half. Being able to respond and tie the game was huge for us.”

Concordia did not register a shot during the overtime period, but it did put together a significant scare when Sami Birmingham got one-on-one with the Graceland keeper. The Bulldogs didn’t get the call they hoped for when contact was made in the box. Then in the 96th minute, Hiner deposited the game winner into the back of the net.

Concordia had hoped to ride the momentum it built when it forced the overtime with a late goal from Jeannelle Condame on a free kick. All three of the game’s goals were scored after 80 minutes had elapsed. The Yellowjackets (4-0-1) took a 1-0 lead in the 82nd minute thanks to a goal from Soleya Figueroa.

Still unbeaten, Graceland received votes in this week’s NAIA coaches’ poll. The Yellowjackets were able to fend off the Bulldogs despite being outshot, 12-2, in the second half and 18-10 for the game. In goal, GPAC defensive player of the week Lindsey Carley made three saves in nearly 96 minutes of action.

On the attack, junior Maria Deeter was most active with four shots, including one on goal. Senior Esther Soenksen returned to the lineup and put three shots on frame, though all three were denied by Manaia Siania Unutoa. Henson also made note of the good work produced by freshmen Victoria Cera and Michaela Twito.

Concordia hopes to build upon its second half performance next time out when it travels to Waldorf University for a 1 p.m. kickoff on Wednesday (Sept. 13). The Bulldogs will be back at home on Sept. 16 to host Kansas Wesleyan University.

Concordia seeks return to win column in final week of nonconference action

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University women’s soccer team hopes to look more like the team that blazed through its first three games than the one that dropped back-to-back games last week. However, there were positive signs over the weekend at Graceland University, where the Bulldogs put together a solid second half. Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad enters the week at 3-2-1 overall.

This week’s schedule
Wednesday, Sept. 13 at Waldorf University, 1 p.m. CT
Saturday, Sept. 16 vs. Kansas Wesleyan University, 1 p.m. CT

Concordia aspires to get back to finishing its chances on the attack. It found the back of the net 14 times during the season’s first three games. Since then, the Bulldogs have put up 44 shots but have scored only a pair of goals. In last week’s action, Concordia goals were produced by Lauren Martin and Jeannelle Condame. Maria Deeter remains the team leader with four goals on the year. In goal, Henson has split time evenly between Lindsey Carley and Jessica Knedler.

Last week Bellevue handed the Bulldogs just their second nonconference home loss since the beginning of the 2014 season. In that timeframe, Concordia has gone 28-6-1 at home and 48-16-7 overall with two GPAC tournament titles and two national tournament appearances. The Bulldogs will be back at home Saturday following Wednesday’s road trip to Forest City, Iowa.

Waldorf belongs to the North Star Athletic Association. The Warriors are 1-6 with their lone victory coming by forfeit. They have been outscored by a combined total of 20-1 this season and are 0-4 against GPAC opponents. On the other hand, Kansas Wesleyan is 0-3 against a challenging schedule. The Coyotes were ranked 20th in the NAIA preseason poll following a 2016 campaign that saw them go 16-3-3 overall and 10-1 within the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

This week’s action will lead into the start of conference play on Sept. 23 when Dakota Wesleyan will host the Bulldogs in Mitchell, S.D.

Webcast links:
-Wednesday at Waldorf
-Saturday vs. Kansas Wesleyan

Cera's hat trick leads goal-scoring explosion in Forest City

FOREST CITY, Iowa – After scoring only twice over its previous three outings, the Concordia University women’s soccer team cut loose its pent up frustrations. Freshman Victoria Cera recorded the second hat trick this season by a Bulldog, leading her squad to a 7-1 blowout win over Waldorf University in Forest City, Iowa, on Wednesday afternoon.

The dominant victory put an end to a three-game winless streak for fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad. Concordia has improved to 4-2-1 with one nonconference game remaining on the schedule.

“It was just a matter of us being patient in the attack today,” Henson said. “They came out with a strategy to sit in and defend and keep 10 behind the ball at all times. We just need to be patient and move the ball a little bit quicker. We were able to get forward and finish some of our opportunities. I’m really pleased with the response we had to adversity over the last few games. That’s going to serve us well moving forward.”

Cera, a native of Las Vegas, Nev., has been a starter in every game this season as a freshman. But she waited until Wednesday to knock in the first goals of her career. As part of a career day, the holding midfielder found the back of the net in the 17th, 52nd and 56th minutes. Five of the team’s seven goals were notched by rookies. Sarah Wuthrich put up her second career goal in the 41st minute and Kaitlyn Radebaugh broke free for the game’s final goal – in the 78th minute.

Sophomore Sami Birmingham (25’) and senior Esther Soenksen (51’) also turned in a goal apiece. Assists were credited to Birmingham, Jennika Chapman, Cera, Maria Deeter, Lauren Martin (two) and Leigha McConnell. Cera’s hat trick matched the feat accomplished by Deeter in the season opening win over Avila University.

“Tori Cera had a tremendous game for us obviously,” Henson said. “The big thing for us is that we were able to get a lot of players in and there was really no drop off when we went to the bench. The reserves did well. Those are the things we need moving forward to be successful. I was really encouraged by that.”

Concordia dominated the host Warriors (1-7) in all facets of the game. The Bulldogs held advantages of 26-5 in shots, 21-5 in shots on goal and 5-0 in corner kicks. Lindsey Carley and Jessica Knedler both played 45 minutes in goal, combining for four saves. The foe from northern Iowa got its lone goal from Amairani Zuniga just after halftime.

The result at Waldorf was exactly what the Bulldogs needed after enduring back-to-back losses last week (Bellevue University and Graceland University). They have now outscored their opponents by a combined total of 23-9 in 2017.

For the fourth time this season, the Bulldogs will entertain the home fans when action kicks off on Saturday from Bulldog Stadium. Concordia and Kansas Wesleyan University (0-3) will go head-to-head at 1 p.m. CT. The Bulldogs and Coyotes last met in 2011 with the result being a 3-1 KWU win.

Concordia closes nonconference play with 2-2 draw

SEWARD, Neb. – In a matchup featuring a pair of 2016 national tournament qualifiers, the Concordia University women’s soccer team twice fell behind by a goal and twice responded with an answer. A goal apiece by Sami Birmingham and Kaitlyn Radebaugh and a sterling double overtime save by Lindsey Carley allowed the Bulldogs to salvage a 2-2 draw with visiting Kansas Wesleyan University on Saturday afternoon.

The contest marked the end of nonconference play for fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad. There have been ups and downs for Concordia (4-2-2), but Saturday’s result was a positive while up against a Coyotes program that went 16-3-3 last season.

“I’m definitely pleased with the response from the team,” Henson said. “Even though we fall behind by a goal we know the game is far from over and we have the ability to come back. The game in the second half was there for the taking. You’re never satisfied with a draw. If Lindsey Carley doesn’t come up with that save in double overtime, we’re having a different conversation right now.”

Kansas Wesleyan had leads of 1-0 and 2-1 thanks to a goal from Valerie Ochoa and then Taylor Veloz. Concordia kept coming at the Coyotes (0-3-1). A key sequence happened when Maria Deeter drew a foul inside the 18-yard box, setting up Birmingham to convert a penalty kick in the 66th minute. After going down a goal again, Deeter assisted Radebaugh for the game’s final goal.

Both sides played it conservatively in the 20 minutes of overtime action. The biggest scoring threat came in the second overtime when a Demi Imbriani shot forced Carley to make a diving stop in the 109th minute. Kansas Wesleyan ended up with a 13-10 edge in the shot count. Carley came through with six saves while making her fifth start of the year.

Carley is one of several players that are either rookies or have seen their roles increase significantly this season. Another is freshman Chelsea Bright, a starter from day one alongside Leah Shohat at center back. The growth of such players will make the Bulldogs a more dangerous team moving forward.

“I just had to come in and work hard and control the backfield and talk to our players,” Bright said. “Leah Shohat has helped me a lot back there. Our goalies help with where to move.”

Deeter led Concordia with three shots. Radebaugh came off the bench and put two shots on frame, including her goal in the 82nd minute to force overtime. Ochoa was most active for Kansas Wesleyan. She took four shots.

The Bulldogs will be off until next Saturday (Sept. 23) when they are scheduled to open up the conference season with a trip to Dakota Wesleyan (4-2). Kickoff from Mitchell, S.D., is set for 4 p.m. CT. Concordia also visited the Tigers last season and left town with a 4-1 victory.

“Defensively we need to clean some things up to eliminate some of the chances we create for other teams,” Henson said. “But overall I’m pleased with where we are right now.”

Hat trick boosts Cera to GPAC honors

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – For the third time in four weeks, a member of the Concordia University women’s soccer team has earned a GPAC weekly award during the 2017 season. On Tuesday (Sept. 19), the conference named freshman Victoria Cera the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Women’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week. Teammates Maria Deeter (Aug. 29) and Lindsey Carley (Sept. 5) have also pulled in conference weekly awards this season.

All three of Cera’s career collegiate goals came in last week’s 7-1 victory at Waldorf University. In addition to the hat trick, Cera also assisted on an Esther Soenksen goal. A native of Las Vegas, Nev., Cera has made an immediate impact for head coach Greg Henson’s squad. Cera has started each of the team’s first eight games as a holding midfielder. Cera earned all-state recognition at Centennial High School before arriving in Seward.

Cera and the Bulldogs (4-2-2) are getting ready to begin GPAC play on Saturday with a trip to Dakota Wesleyan (5-2) for a 4 p.m. CT kickoff.

Concordia kicks off GPAC play with road test

SEWARD, Neb. – A new season is about to get started for the Concordia University women’s soccer team, which last week ended nonconference regular season action with a 2-2 draw against fellow 2016 NAIA national tournament qualifier Kansas Wesleyan University. Winner of GPAC tournament titles in 2014 and 2016, the Bulldogs (4-2-2) have high hopes despite a pair of slipups and two ties during the non-league schedule. They will be at Dakota Wesleyan at 4 p.m. CT on Saturday for their GPAC opener.

Concordia rebounded last week after enduring back-to-back defeats the previous week. Freshman Victoria Cera burst onto the scene with a hat trick while spurring a 7-1 win at Waldorf University on Sept. 13. That performance helped the Las Vegas, Nev., native earn GPAC offensive player of the week honors, making her the third different Bulldog to collect a conference weekly award in 2017. Cera now stands just one goal off the team lead shared by Sami Birmingham, Maria Deeter and Kaitlyn Radebaugh with four apiece.

During nonconference action, head coach Greg Henson’s squad outscored its opponents by a combined total of 25-11. It also outshot their foes, 157-80. The Bulldogs enter GPAC play ranked as the No. 4 team in the conference, according to the official rankings released by the NAIA. Under Henson, the program’s highest regular season placement was second in 2014. Concordia was picked third while garnering three first-place votes in the conference’s preseason coaches’ poll.

Dakota Wesleyan has been a difficult team to get a handle on. During last week’s action, the Tigers (5-2) dropped a 4-1 decision to Presentation College, a squad with a 2-8 overall record. Just five days later, Dakota Wesleyan edged the University of Jamestown, a team that continues to receive votes in the NAIA national poll. Though the Tigers have finished near the bottom of the conference the past two seasons, they have managed to give the Bulldogs some serious challenges. Concordia defeated DWU in double overtime in 2015 and then had to come back last season to claim a 4-1 win in Mitchell.

Saturday’s game can be seen live via Dakota Wesleyan’s Stretch Internet portal.

Next week will offer up two more dates with GPAC challengers. The Bulldogs will host Mount Marty (2-3) at 5:30 p.m. CT on Sept. 26 before welcoming College of Saint Mary (2-5) to Bulldogs Stadium for a 1 p.m. CT kickoff on Sept. 30.

Bulldogs open up GPAC play with road victory

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Thunderstorms forced the Concordia University women’s soccer team to spend another night in South Dakota. Originally scheduled to play late Saturday afternoon, the Bulldogs waited until Sunday morning to claim a 2-0 victory over Dakota Wesleyan in the GPAC opener for both sides. The game was moved to O’Gorman High School in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson has led Concordia to a conference regular season mark of 22-6-4 since the beginning of the 2014 season. The 2017 squad has improved to 5-2-2 overall.

“Coming up here is never easy for us,” Henson said. “We wanted to manage the game correctly and make sure we got the three points that we needed. It’s been a long trip up to South Dakota this weekend. Even though it was only 1-0 for most of the game, it felt like we had the game where we needed it. We finally got the insurance goal late off a corner kick from Jeannelle (Condame).”

The Tigers (5-3, 0-1 GPAC) were coming off a win over a University of Jamestown team that received votes in the national coaches’ poll. But on this particular day, Dakota Wesleyan’s attack generated precious few opportunities. The Bulldogs outshot the Tigers, 19-4 (10-4 in shots on goal).

A scoreless stalemate lasted until Lauren Martin found the back of the net in the 32nd minute after playing a ball from Sarah Wuthrich. Condame put the finishing touch on the victory by curling in a corner kick in the 88th minute. It was a busy day for Condame during a game that featured 14 Concordia corner kicks.

Goalkeeper Lindsey Carley made four saves while recording the shutout with the help of a back line that blends the experience of the likes of Leah Shohat and the youth of rookie Chelsea Bright at center back. Henson has also regularly employed freshmen Victoria Cera, reigning GPAC offensive player of the week, and Michaela Twito in the starting lineup.

The Bulldogs had other opportunities to put goals away. Sami Birmingham topped all players with five shots (one on goal). Martin placed all four of her shots on frame. Maria Deeter was also credited with four shots, including three on goal.

Concordia will be at home for both of this week’s contests. Up next is Tuesday’s (Sept. 26) visit from Mount Marty (2-4, 0-1 GPAC). Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. CT from Bulldog Stadium. The Bulldogs are 2-1-1 at home this season.

Two conference opponents set to visit Seward

SEWARD, Neb. – A longer-than-expected road trip leads the Concordia University women’s soccer team into an important week of conference action. The Bulldogs aspire to close out the month of September with a strong week at home. Concordia opened up conference play on Sunday with a 2-0 victory over Dakota Wesleyan in a contest played at O’Gorman High School in Sioux Falls, S.D.

This week’s schedule
Tuesday, Sept. 26 vs. Mount Marty, 5:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, Sept. 30 vs. College of Saint Mary, 1 p.m. CT

The Bulldogs (5-2-2, 1-0 GPAC) are in the midst of an impressive run of success in GPAC play. Henson produced conference records of .500 or better in each of his first four seasons. Since the beginning of the 2014 campaign, Concordia has gone a combined 22-6-4 in GPAC regular season action. The Bulldogs entered this year having recorded exactly seven GPAC victories in each of the previous three seasons. The 2014 team went through the entire campaign without losing to a conference opponent. It went 7-0-3 during the regular season before winning the GPAC tournament title.

The Bulldogs put together their most dominant defensive performance of the season in the win over Dakota Wesleyan. The Tigers took only four shots, all of which were saved by goalkeeper Lindsey Carley, who registered her second shutout of the year. It was a good sign for a squad that ranks sixth in the GPAC in goals allowed per game (1.22). Solid team defense have been hallmarks of the program in recent years. Consider the team’s goals allowed per game figures and conference ranks for the previous three seasons: 2016 (0.91, 2nd), 2015 (0.76, 1st) and 2014 (0.86, 4th).

Concordia would like to repeat last season’s results in regards to games against Mount Marty (2-4, 0-1 GPAC) and College of Saint Mary (4-5, 1-0 GPAC). The Bulldogs blanked the Lancers, 12-0, and the Flames, 4-0. College of Saint Mary topped the Lancers, 3-0, last week.

Both of this week’s home games can be viewed live on the Concordia Sports Network.

Next week Concordia will take to the road with trips to Briar Cliff (Oct. 4) and Northwestern (Oct. 7).

Condame displays powerful leg in extension of GPAC win streak

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University women’s soccer team has accomplished exactly what it set out to do in its first two GPAC contests of 2017. The Bulldogs again dominated possession while Jeannelle Condame’s deadly weapon of a free kick helped spark a 5-0 win over visiting Mount Marty (2-5, 0-2 GPAC) on Tuesday night.

Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad has improved to 6-2-2 overall and to 2-0 in conference play. Dating back to last season, Concordia has won 10 consecutive games against GPAC foes. In this rare instance, Henson’s bunch had only one off day after topping Dakota Wesleyan on Sunday.

“We talk about all the time in the locker room how getting three points (in the conference standings) is what we’re looking for,” Henson said. “Get it done any which way, whether it’s an ugly game or a pretty game. I’m proud of the girls and the effort tonight with a 5-0 convincing win. We were able to get a lot of players into the match.”

The final score failed to depict the mismatch that played out inside Bulldog Stadium. The Bulldogs outshot the Lancers, 41-3, and held the visitor without a shot until late in the first half. Ten different players in the home white kits got at least one shot off. Sami Birmingham and Maria Deeter rattled off 10 shots apiece. Lancer keeper Consuelo Michel was under constant fire. She saved 19 of the 24 shots on goal.

Each of Concordia’s first two goals came on exceptionally well-executed free kicks by Condame. The first score was facilitated by Condame’s ball into the box that Deeter headed into the back of the net less than a minute-and-a-half after the opening kickoff. Eighteen minutes later, Condame completely froze the goalkeeper with a 35-yard strike laced into the upper right corner of the frame.

“It was kind of a weird situation because they didn’t even set up a wall,” Condame said. “She cheated to the left so I had to go to the right, or at least try to, and it worked.”

It was a night when Bulldog attackers licked their chops at the smorgasbord of opportunities. Esther Soenksen got into the act early in the second half when she found an unmarked Deeter in front of an empty net for a tap in goal. Moments later, Soenksen played a ball from Taylor Roby into the back of the net.

There were a series of additional shots that drilled the crossbar. Not only that, Concordia enjoyed a 12-0 advantage in corner kicks as the ball lived on the Bulldog attacking third. It meant for a quiet night for center backs Chelsea Bright and Leah Shohat and goalkeepers Lindsey Carley and Jessica Knedler. The comfortable margin allowed for a total of 24 players to see action for the Bulldogs.

Concordia hopes this is just the start of another magical ride within the GPAC. Said Condame, “We know that our talent is higher than in past years. Every year we just keep getting better and better, and our team dynamic is really good. Everyone’s positive. Everyone’s wanting the best for the team.”

The Bulldogs will remain at home on Saturday and host College of Saint Mary (5-5, 2-0 GPAC). Kickoff from Seward is set for 1 p.m. CT. Concordia also welcomed the Flames to Seward in 2016. The result was a 4-0 Bulldog victory.

Bulldogs douse Flames

SEWARD, Neb. – So far so good for Concordia University women’s soccer, which remains unbeaten and unscored upon during conference action. On Saturday (Sept. 30) afternoon, the Bulldogs trampled visiting College of Saint Mary, 6-0, inside Bulldog Stadium. Five different Concordia players recorded a goal in the blowout victory.

Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad also owns conference victories over Dakota Wesleyan and Mount Marty. A five-game unbeaten streak has moved the Bulldogs to 7-2-2 overall and to 3-0 in the GPAC. Concordia has won each of its last 11 contests against conference opponents.

“Each game for us in conference is very important,” Henson said. “We knew Saint Mary is a good team and it would be a good test for us. We wanted to get off to a good start and I thought we did that early in the first half. We got a great free kick from Jeannelle Condame and Michaela Twito finished it. From there it just went well for us.”

The Bulldogs took their chances well, scoring goals on six of their first seven shots. The goal-scoring outburst began when freshman Michaela Twito headed in a free kick off the foot of Condame. The fireworks continued with Esther Soenksen scoring 12 minutes later before Maria Deeter knocked in her first of two goals on the day. Kaitlyn Radebaugh got loose for a goal late in the first half and Lauren Martin added the contest’s final tally with a goal in the 49th minute.

Defensively, Concordia minimized the Flames (5-6, 2-1 GPAC) attacking opportunities. The biggest threat occurred when College of Saint Mary drew a foul in the box. The ensuing penalty kick in the 33rd minute from Cassie Dauber was saved by Lindsey Carley, who dove to her right. Carley played 65 minutes in goal and made four saves before giving way to Jessica Knedler.

It was easy for Carley and Knedler to make themselves comfortable while watching their teammates pile up goals.

“It gives you a lot more confidence,” Carley said. “It lets the nerves go down even more. You just have to keep playing confidently either way. It definitely makes you feel more comfortable.”

The Bulldogs and Flames were actually even in the shot department with 11 apiece. Three days earlier Concordia fired off 41 shots in a 5-0 win over Mount Marty. Deeter was the most active, unleashing four shots. She also added an assist. Freshman Victoria Cera set up the fourth and sixth goals. In her first action of the season, junior Ashley Martin chipped in an assist. As did her twin sister Lauren.

The Bulldogs will be on the road twice next week. Next up is Wednesday’s (Oct. 4) trip to Briar Cliff (6-4, 0-2 GPAC) for a 1 p.m. CT kickoff. Concordia defeated the Chargers twice last season, once in the regular season and again in the GPAC tournament quarterfinals.

“It’s always difficult to go on the road in this conference,” Henson said. “It’ll be two tough road games on grass with Briar Cliff and Northwestern. We’ll spend a lot of time on our grass practice field this week to get ready for that. I’m really just looking for us to continue to build off the momentum that we started in the first three games.”

Pivotal week on the road greets Bulldogs

SEWARD, Neb. – Following back-to-back GPAC home victories, the Concordia University women’s soccer team is now faced with consecutive road contests in western Iowa. The Bulldogs have positioned themselves to play meaningful games in October thanks to a 3-0 start to conference play. The run has included wins over Dakota Wesleyan, Mount Marty and College of Saint Mary.

This week’s schedule
Wednesday, Oct. 4 at Briar Cliff, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 7 at Northwestern, 5 p.m.

Head coach Greg Henson has built a program that has lived inside the top three spots of the conference standings since 2014. During Henson’s tenure, Concordia has put together two separate unbeaten streaks of more than 10 games against GPAC opponents. Coming off a GPAC tournament title in 2016, the Bulldogs own an active win streak of 11 versus conference opponents (have outscored opponents 42-3 during that stretch). Additionally, the 2014 conference tournament champions went the entire season without suffering a defeat against a GPAC foe.

A bid for another conference championship will be led by junior Maria Deeter, who doubled her season goal count last week by putting up two goals apiece in the two wins. Her eight goals are a career high, surpassing the seven she had as a sophomore. Six other Bulldogs have tallied three or more goals for a team with the 11th most goals among NAIA women’s soccer programs. Deeter also plays a key role in the team’s defensive success. The Bulldogs have recorded three shutouts to begin conference play.

Briar Cliff (6-4, 0-2 GPAC) opened up conference play last week and suffered losses to Dordt and No. 19 Hastings by identical 2-0 scores. Concordia defeated the Chargers twice last season, once during the regular season (3-0) and then again in the GPAC tournament quarterfinals (5-1). Briar Cliff, led by first-year head coach Will Lemke, entered conference play with a four-game win streak. Taylor Makenna paces the Chargers with six goals on the year.

Northwestern (7-2-2, 2-0-1 GPAC) has bounced back since a 1-0 loss to York College on Sept. 16. The Red Raiders own a quality win over Bellevue University (1-0 in overtime) and earned a 0-0 draw with 18th-ranked Midland. Northwestern currently ranks 14th nationally in terms of fewest goals allowed per game (0.45) behind goalkeeper Naomi Schimmel, who has played every minute of the Red Raiders’ first 11 games.

Both of this week’s games will be carried live on the web via Stretch Internet. Links: at Briar Cliff | at Northwestern.

Next week will bring about a return home for Concordia, which is scheduled to host Doane (1-7-2, 0-3 GPAC) on Oct. 11 and then Morningside (5-4, 1-1 GPAC) on Oct. 14.

Birmingham, Radebaugh lead attack in rout of Briar Cliff

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Once the Concordia University women’s soccer team perforated the seal on the goal line, Wednesday afternoon’s contest broke wide open. The first multi-goal game of freshman Kaitlyn Radebaugh’s career helped continue the Bulldog dominance within the conference. The latest outing ended in a 5-1 victory over host Briar Cliff.

A few different streaks remained intact for fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s program. Concordia owns active streaks of 12-consecutive wins over GPAC opponents, six games in a row overall without a loss and 12-straight series triumphs over the Chargers (6-5, 0-3 GPAC). On the year, the Bulldogs have moved to 8-2-2 overall and to a perfect 4-0 in conference action.

“We knew it was going to be a wet playing surface. Both teams had to deal with it,” Henson said. “Once we settled into the match, I thought we did a nice job controlling play and controlling possession. Michaela Twito and Tori Cera did a nice job in the middle of the park, winning balls out of the air and taking that aspect of the game away from them. Radebaugh came off the bench and continued to provide a spark. That really changed the tone of the game.”

A game that was scoreless through the first 30 minutes turned into a comfortable win for the Bulldogs. Concordia’s first three goals all came within a span of less than seven minutes. Radebaugh began the splurge with a goal apiece in the 31st and 34th minutes. The native of Roca, Neb., has consistently provided offensive sizzle off the bench. Her seven goals rank second best on the team.

The Bulldogs will be especially dangerous during the stretch run if sophomore Sami Birmingham can ramp up her goal scoring efforts to the level of her freshman season when she found the back of the net 20 times. After Briar Cliff cut a 3-0 lead to 3-1, Birmingham answered with a goal in the 58th minute. And to completely kill the Chargers’ hopes, Birmingham scored again in the 71st minute.

Ranked third in the GPAC in points entering the week, junior Maria Deeter pushed her team leading goal count to nine with her 38th minute goal. The Seward native also assisted on Birmingham’s first goal. Deeter has dished out seven assists.

“It’s huge for Sami to get on the board,” Henson said. “Our team is doing a great job of scoring goals around her. She’s been directly involved in a lot of goals we’ve scored. She’s such a valuable player for us. It’s exciting to see her find the back of the net again today.”

Concordia outshot Briar Cliff, 18-7 (13-3 in shots on goal), in what was another decisive win over the Chargers. The Bulldogs have outscored Briar Cliff by a combined total of 17-2 over the past four meetings.

Lindsey Carley (77 minutes) and Jessica Knedler (13 minutes) again shared time in goal. They were faced with only three shots on goal. A 49th-minute goal by Taylor Beaulieu was the only thing that prevented a fourth-straight shutout win.

A two-game road swing within the conference continues on Saturday when the Bulldogs will journey to Orange City, Iowa, for a tussle with Northwestern (7-2-2, 2-0-1 GPAC). Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. CT. Concordia hopes to earn its first win over the Red Raiders since 2008.

Attack stifled, Bulldogs settle for draw

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – It took a stellar effort from goalkeeper Naomi Schimmel in order for Northwestern to earn a draw on Saturday (Oct. 7) evening. That’s exactly what the Red Raiders got. Her 17 saves meant the Concordia University women’s soccer team had to settle for a 0-0 double overtime draw in a contest that took place in Sioux Center, Iowa.

The battle featured a pair of teams without a loss in conference play. Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad leaves town with records of 8-2-3 overall and 4-0-1 in the GPAC. The tie pushed its GPAC point total to 13 on the year.

“We just couldn’t capitalize,” Henson said. “They’re a good, sound defensive team. They forced us into some bad shots. That’s who they are. They played a little bit different than we expected them to. Any time you go on the road and come away with points, it’s a success. I thought we were deserving of a win. When you head into a second overtime, you want to make sure you walk away with a point.”

The frustration for the Bulldogs is that they failed to put away a single goal despite the many chances they created. Concordia outshot Northwestern, 26-7, including 6-1 over the 20 minutes of overtime action. The Bulldogs flirted with a potential golden goal on several occasions. Lauren Martin got loose behind the Red Raider defenders with a counter attack that followed a Northwestern corner kick. Eventually one-on-one with the keeper, Martin misfired to the left of the goal.

Schimmel and company were peppered throughout the game by the likes of Maria Deeter (six shots), Sami Birmingham (four shots) and Victoria Cera (four shots). Three other Bulldogs were credited with three shots apiece. Two of Deeter’s shots came after regulation had ended. One hit the crossbar on a header attempt.

On the other end of the field, Lindsey Carley faced a mere fraction of the pressure placed upon Schimmel. Carley was called upon to make only three saves. Not a single Red Raider player took more than one shot. Concordia has allowed just a single goal in the first half of the conference season.

Northwestern (8-2-3, 3-0-2 GPAC) is one of the most difficult teams in the NAIA to score on. The Red Raiders, who also tied No. 18 Midland, have surrendered just five goals all season. Coming into play, Schimmel ranked ninth nationally in goals against average (0.400). Northwestern did a solid job of keeping the ball out of especially dangerous areas in the box against a Concordia team that had produced 18 goals over its four GPAC wins.

“We got off to a little bit of a sluggish start,” Henson said. “I thought we played really well during parts of the second half. It just wasn’t our night to score goals.”

After a week on the road, it’s time for some home cooking. The Bulldogs will host Doane (1-9-2, 0-5 GPAC) at 5:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday (Oct. 11). The Tigers are still seeking their first conference victory after a 6-0 home loss to Dordt on Saturday. Concordia defeated Doane handily, 5-0, last season in Crete.

Bulldogs honored with United Soccer Coaches academic award

United Soccer Coaches release

SEWARD, Neb. – Last week the United Soccer Coaches announced the Concordia University women’s soccer program as College Women’s Team Academic Award winner for the 2016-17 academic year. Head coach Greg Henson’s team also garnered NAIA Scholar-Team status last season with a collective GPA of 3.45. Seven representatives from the team earned NAIA Scholar-Athlete accolades last fall.

United Soccer Coaches (formerly the NSCAA) announced the Team Academic Award Winners at the high school and college levels to recognize exemplary performance in the classroom during the 2016-17 academic year. A total of 837 collegiate teams (293 men, 544 women) earned the Team Academic Award, including 195 schools who had both their men's and women's programs among the recipients.

United Soccer Coaches annually celebrates the academic achievements of high school and college soccer teams whose student-athletes collectively demonstrate a commitment to excellence in their studies over the course of a full school year. College Team Academic Award recipients are active members of the United Soccer Coaches College Services Program with a composite grade point of average of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale for all players on the roster.

Concordia has become a regular winner of the United Soccer Coaches award. In addition, Henson’s program led the GPAC in NAIA Scholar-Athletes each season from 2013 through 2015. The 2013 Bulldogs topped the entire nation in Scholar-Athletes and its 3.75 GPAC was best among collegiate women’s soccer programs at all levels of competition. The 2015-16 Bulldogs were also recognized as an NAIA Scholar-Team. Its 3.61 GPA rated fifth best out of all NAIA women’s soccer programs.

Battle with Doane, GPAC title rematch up next

SEWARD, Neb. – After two on the road, it’s time for two at home. The Concordia University women’s soccer team will have a chance to extend its unbeaten run in conference play this week when it hosts Doane on Wednesday (Oct. 11) and Morningside on Saturday (Oct. 14). Saturday’s meeting will be a rematch of the 2015 and 2016 GPAC championship games. Last year’s title tilt resulted in a 3-1 Bulldog win in Seward.

This week’s schedule
Wednesday, Oct. 11 vs. Doane (1-9-2, 0-5 GPAC), 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 14 vs. Morningside (6-5, 2-2 GPAC), 5:30 p.m.

Head coach Greg Henson has led the program to two separate GPAC undefeated streaks of more than 10 games. The 2014 conference tournament titlist went 7-0-3 during the GPAC regular season and then won three conference postseason contests. The 2015 team pushed the unbeaten run to 14 (10-0-4) before suffering a loss. The program currently has an active 13-game undefeated streak (12-0-1) against GPAC opponents. It’s been nearly a full year since the last loss to a conference foe (Oct. 12, 2016 vs. Midland).

On Saturday, the Bulldogs will celebrate a class of five seniors: Jeannelle Condame, Abby Goeckeler, Leigha McConnell, Leah Shohat and Esther Soenksen. Since the seniors stepped on campus in 2014, Concordia has gone a combined 53-16-9 with two national tournament appearances. Among active players, Soenksen possesses the most career goals (28) and assists (21). Soenksen has played in all 76 games the Bulldogs have played over the past four seasons.

Doane is trying to return to the level it reached in 2012 when it won the GPAC tournament. The Tigers are under the direction of second-year head coach Jennifer Kennedy-Croft. Their lone victory of the season came over Manhattan Christian College (Kan.) on Sept. 12. In five conference games, Doane has been outscored by a combined total of 22-0. Tiger keepers have been under heavy fire this season. They rank 22nd nationally in saves per game (8.5).

The Mustangs have had an up-and-down first 11 games. They defeated then 24th-ranked Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.), 2-1, on Sept. 10. Morningside is coming off a 4-1 home loss to College of Saint Mary this past weekend. The team’s leading goal scorer is Merle Bublitz, who has racked up 10 goals and five assists this fall. Morningside won a GPAC tournament title as recently as 2015 and a conference regular-season championship as recently as 2013.

Both of this week’s games will be featured live on the Concordia Sports Network. Just three regular-season matches will remain on the schedule after this week concludes. Next week the Bulldogs will be at No. 19 Midland (Oct. 18) and at Dordt (Oct. 21).

Bulldogs record yet another GPAC shutout

SEWARD, Neb. – Just about every time the Concordia University women’s soccer team has faced a GPAC team currently residing in the back half of the standings, things have gotten ugly. But in a good way from the perspective of the Bulldogs. Three different players wearing the home white kits found the back of the net in a 3-0 win over Doane in Seward on Wednesday night.

Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad has equaled a program record for longest ever unbeaten run against GPAC opponents. The streak is active at 14 games (13-0-1), tying the 2014-15 streak (10-0-4). This 2017 Concordia team stands at 9-2-3 overall and at a first-place 5-0-1 in the conference.

“That was the goal and we accomplished that,” Henson said of the latest victory. “We definitely would have liked to have been more clean and more crisp in how we played. I thought we played well in segments but really didn’t put together a full 90 minutes from the effort and work rate side of things. It’s the grind of the conference season. It’s just about that next game.”

The scoring opened up in the 19th minute when a Maria Deeter pass up the field led Sami Birmingham on a run into the box. The native of Johnston, Iowa, knew what to do with it. A high arching shot lofted by Esther Soenksen and an impressive curling corner kick from Victoria Cera made for a 3-0 halftime advantage.

The Bulldogs may not have been as sharp as hoped, but they still managed to control possession. That’s been a theme throughout conference play. More than a dozen games into collegiate soccer, Cera and fellow freshman Michaela Twito have teamed with Deeter on a terrific collection of midfielders. They are a big part of the reason why Concordia has allowed just a single goal through six conference games. Jessica Knedler and Abby Goeckeler split the shutout in goal on Wednesday.

“We’ve been working together and we’ve been meshing well,” Cera said. “We’ve been reading each other’s movements. That’s really contributed to our performance on the field.”

It took Doane more than 60 minutes to record its first shot of the contest. The Bulldogs ended up with a 27-2 edge in shots (16-2 in shots on goal) and an 11-0 advantage in corner kicks. The Tigers (1-10-2, 0-6 GPAC) are working on rebuilding a program that won the 2012 GPAC tournament title. The positive Doane could take away from Wednesday was that it held Concordia off the scoreboard for the entire second half despite the ball living in the Bulldog attacking third.

By the next outing, Concordia will have gone more than a full year (Oct. 12, 2016 vs. Midland) since suffering a loss at the hands of a conference foe. During the active 14-game unbeaten streak when playing GPAC teams, the Bulldogs have out outscored opponents by a collective total of 50-4.

“We’re very excited,” Cera said of the opportunity that sits in front of Concordia. “They’re tough teams but we like playing high-intensity games. We’re very competitive.”

The Bulldogs will remain at home and host Morningside (7-5, 3-2 GPAC) on Saturday in what will be a rematch of both the 2015 and 2016 GPAC tournament championship games. Kickoff from Bulldog Stadium is set for 5:30 p.m. CT. Concordia defeated the Mustangs both in Sioux City and in Seward during the 2016 campaign.

Rematch of last two GPAC tournament finalists goes to Bulldogs

SEWARD, Neb. – In celebration of senior night, the Concordia University women’s soccer team kept its conference unbeaten streak alive. Three different Bulldogs notched a goal apiece while fueling a 3-0 win over visiting Morningside on Saturday evening. The battle featured the 2015 and 2016 GPAC tournament finalists.

Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s program is on an active unbeaten run of 15 (14-0-1). On the year, GPAC front running Concordia stands at 10-2-3 overall and at 6-0-1 in conference play.

“We knew it was going to be a tough matchup,” Henson said. “We’ve played Morningside now five times in the last three years, including the two championship games in the tournament. We got the early goal from Sami Birmingham, but we knew Morningside wasn’t going to go away. There were some scary moments at time for us defensively, but I thought we did well to keep those few and far between.”

The Bulldogs enjoyed a lead for more than 82 minutes of Saturday’s contest. Sophomore Sami Birmingham found the back of the net after a scramble in the box late in the eighth minute. Concordia waited until the 74th minute to add an insurance goal. That’s when senior Jeannelle Condame did what Jeannelle Condame does. She drilled a free kick from about 35 yards out into the back of the net.

Five-and-a-half minutes later, Concordia celebrated a Lauren Martin goal that sealed the win. Martin simply took advantage of misplayed ball by the Mustang back line and tapped into an empty net. With Martin’s exclamation point, the Bulldogs have now outscored conference opponents by a combined total of 24-1.

Impressively, Concordia has earned shutout wins over five GPAC opponents. Lindsey Carley got the start in goal and was called upon to make just two saves in her 83 minutes of playing time. The Bulldogs outshot Morningside, 14-9 (7-2 in shots on goal).

It was fitting for Condame to score a goal on a free kick on a night when she was honored along with four other seniors. The current seniors have made up the winningest four-year group in program history with an overall record of 55-16-9. They have won two GPAC tournament championships and have made two trips to the national tournament. Condame is joined in the senior class by Abby Goeckler, Leigha McConnell, Leah Shohat and Esther Soenksen.

“It’s always exciting to score a goal,” Condame said. “Scoring a goal in front of my family and a lot of my friends was really a big moment for me and really sentimental. A lot of my sisters’ friends are here and the seniors when we were freshmen are here. It was just a really great moment.”

Including the GPAC tournament last season, the Bulldogs have not lost in any of their last 15 games against conference opponents. Their most recent defeat at the hands of a GPAC foe occurred Oct. 12, 2016, when Midland got the upper hand, 3-1.

An exciting stretch run awaits as the Bulldogs hunt their first regular-season conference championship. Concordia will play at 18th-ranked Midland (10-1-2, 4-0-2 GPAC) for a 5 p.m. CT kickoff on Wednesday (Oct. 18). The Warriors will be seeking revenge for the 1-0 overtime Bulldog win that resulted in Fremont in last season’s GPAC semifinals. “We know it’s going to be a tough matchup,” Henson said. “They have a lot of speed up front. They have some dangerous goal scorers.”

Game-winning goals net Birmingham GPAC honor

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – For the second time in her career, sophomore Sami Birmingham has been tabbed the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Women’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week, as announced by the conference on Tuesday (Oct. 17). Birmingham is the fourth different member of the Concordia University women’s soccer team to be named a GPAC player of the week this season.

Also awarded a GPAC weekly honor on Nov. 8, 2016, the Johnston, Iowa, native spurred the Bulldogs to 3-0 home wins over both Doane and Morningside last week. She earned credit for the game-winning goal in both contests. The native of Johnston, Iowa, has ramped up her offensive production in recent action, totaling four goals over the past four games for the GPAC front running Bulldogs. With eight goals on the year, Birmingham ranks fifth among GPAC players.

The product of Johnston High School enjoyed one of the top freshman seasons in program history last season. She appeared in all 22 games and tallied 20 goals for the 13th largest total in the nation. A first team all-conference selection in 2016, Birmingham has piled up 28 goals and 14 assists in 37 career collegiate games.

Birmingham and the Bulldogs (10-2-3, 6-0-1 GPAC) will return to action on Wednesday with a short trip to Fremont for a matchup with No. 18 Midland (10-1-2, 4-0-2). Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. CT.

GPAC players of the week in 2017
Oct. 17 – Sami Birmingham
Sept. 19 – Victoria Cera
Sept. 5 – Lindsey Carley
Aug. 29 – Maria Deeter

Front-running Bulldogs look to remain on top of GPAC standings

SEWARD, Neb. – According to this week’s official GPAC ratings, the Concordia University women’s soccer team will play the conference’s first, second and fourth best teams to end the regular season. For the Bulldogs to be the best, they truly will have to beat the best. This week’s action begins with a pivotal matchup at No. 18 Midland on Wednesday in a battle between two squads without a conference defeat.

This week’s schedule
Wednesday, Oct. 18 at No. 18 Midland (10-1-2, 4-0-2), 5 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 21 at Dordt (9-5, 4-2), 1 p.m.

Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad owns an overall unbeaten streak of nine (7-0-2) and an unbeaten streak of 15 (14-0-1) when playing against conference opponents. The Bulldogs will have an opportunity this week to avenge their most recent loss to a GPAC opponent – a 3-1 home defeat suffered at the hands of Midland on Oct. 12, 2016. Concordia got the Warriors back with a 1-0 GPAC semifinal win that came down to an Esther Soenksen golden goal last season.

Sophomore Sami Birmingham became the fourth Bulldog this season to earn a GPAC player of the week award when she was honored on Tuesday (Oct. 17). A big finish from Birmingham would be a big boost to Concordia’s conference championship hopes. The Johnston, Iowa, native has tallied four goals over the past four games. Defensively, the Bulldogs (10-2-3, 6-0-1 GPAC) have surrendered just one goal through seven GPAC games.

The Warriors have also allowed only one goal in conference play. Midland made a splash during nonconference action by knocking off then No. 16 Baker University (Kan.) in a road game on Sept. 9. Concordia and Midland have been similarly dominant this season. While the Bulldogs have outscored opponents by combined total of 49-12, the Warriors own a 41-5 advantage over their foes. Midland’s top goal scorer has been PT Perez, who has found the back of the net 13 times.

Dordt has come a long way from the team that went 1-8-1 in conference play in 2014. The Defenders impressively took care of Northwestern, 4-0, last week and are in the hunt for a top four seed in the GPAC tournament. Dordt’s balanced scoring attack features four players with six or more goals, including eight from Raquelle Mouw. The Defenders pushed Midland in 2-1 defeat over the weekend in Sioux Center.

Both of this week’s contests will come with some form of live coverage. Wednesday’s game at Midland can be live streamed HERE. Saturday’s match at Dordt can be tracked via live stats HERE.

The regular season will conclude next week when No. 20 Hastings visits Seward for a 5:30 p.m. CT kickoff on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

GPAC title bid gets real with upset at No. 18 Midland

FREMONT, Neb. – The Concordia University women’s soccer program has a way of rising to the occasion when playing premier opponents within the conference. The latest showdown proved no different. The Bulldogs made a 42nd-minute goal from freshman Kaitlyn Radebaugh stand up in a 1-0 upset of 18th-ranked Midland

This win was a big one. Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad remains atop the GPAC standings. Concordia is now 11-2-3 overall and 7-0-1 (22 points) in conference play with two games to go in the regular season.

“We wanted to come out and treat it like a playoff game,” Henson said. “It was definitely two good teams competing. It was a playoff kind of atmosphere. This was the best team we faced in a while so that was kind of a concern going in as far as playing a high-level opponent.

“In the second half, I thought girls did a great job of managing the game and seeing out the victory.”

According to the Modified Ratings Percentage Index released today (Oct. 18) by the NAIA, the contest featured 19th-ranked Midland against the 72nd-ranked Bulldogs. If the games were played on paper, Concordia wouldn’t be able to claim two of the past three GPAC tournament championships (2014 and 2016). On this night, the Bulldogs were just a little bit better than a Warrior outfit that outshot the visitors, 14-7. One Midland strike in the first half drilled the crossbar, keeping the game scoreless.

Midland (10-2-2, 4-1-2 GPAC) has been nationally ranked since Sept. 12, but now finds its GPAC regular-season title hopes severely crippled. Though the Warriors have played one less game than Concordia, they have now fallen eight points out of first place in the league standings.

Not much in the plan of attack changed after Radebaugh’s goal put the Bulldogs in front heading into the break. However, Concordia wasn’t going to be disappointed by a defensive-oriented second half that limited attacking opportunities for Midland.

“Going into the second half we wanted to continue to play and try to get the next goal,” Henson said. “We wanted that second goal but at the same time, we wanted to be smart defensively and not take unnecessary chances. As the clock wound down we went to more of a defensive lineup.”

Lindsey Carley (five saves) played all 90 minutes in goal, helping the Bulldogs earn their seventh shutout in conference play. Despite breaking in new starting keepers this season, Concordia has been one of the nation’s stingiest teams.

Beating foes pulling in national votes is not a new thing for the Bulldogs. Last season they took down a ‘receiving votes’ Midland in the GPAC semifinals. Concordia also got past No. 16 Hastings in the conference semifinals in 2015 and topped No. 16 Bellevue University that same year.

The Bulldogs will play on the road for the final time this regular season when Saturday’s action from Sioux Center, Iowa, gets underway at 1 p.m. CT. Dordt (10-5, 5-2 GPAC) will serve as the opponent. The improving Defenders were ranked fourth in the official GPAC poll released on Monday by the NAIA. Concordia earned a 4-0 win at Dordt last season.

Henson says this is no time to look ahead to next week’s regular-season finale with No. 20 Hastings. “Dordt’s having a great season and we know they’re going to be a difficult opponent,” Henson said. “I told the girls after the game that there’s no other games on the schedule but this Saturday. That’s the only one that matters right now.”

Concordia remains atop GPAC standings with win at Dordt

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – Sandwiched between showdowns with nationally-ranked GPAC rivals, Saturday’s (Oct. 21) contest at Dordt could have caught the Concordia University women’s soccer team looking ahead. A lightning delay of an hour failed to stop the Bulldogs from continuing their bid for a GPAC regular-season championship. An Esther Soenksen goal was all Concordia needed to claim a 1-0 win over the Defenders in a match played in Sioux Center, Iowa.

Unbeaten in its last 17 games against conference opponents, fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad improved to 12-2-3 overall and to 8-0-1 in conference play. With one game left in the regular season, the Bulldogs are one win (or draw) away from another GPAC championship.

“Dordt’s a good program and it’s always a tough place to play up here,” Henson said. “The weather conditions didn’t make anything easier. We knew we had to come up and get a win. We weren’t too concerned about whether it was a pretty win or an ugly win. We knew we had to grind one out. There were a couple scary moments in the second half. Lindsey Carley stepped up and made some big saves for us to preserve the shutout.”

Shutouts have become the norm for Concordia, which has now blanked eight of its nine GPAC opponents this season. Carley made five saves while earning her second shutout of the week. Solid defensive play helped the Bulldogs overcome a shot disadvantage of 16-6.

Junior captain Maria Deeter did much of the work to set up Soenksen for a tap in goal in the 59th minute. Career goal No. 30 for the Lincoln Lutheran High School product was a big one for a program that’s become used to making big plays in big moments.

The Bulldogs have now clinched at least the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament that will begin with the quarterfinals on Nov. 2. Concordia has advanced to the GPAC championship game in three-consecutive seasons. None of those previous finalist teams were in position to win the regular-season title heading into game No. 18.

“The team is excited about the position they’ve put themselves into,” Henson said. “It’s our job as coaches to try to keep from putting extra undue pressure on them. We’ve done all the hard work to put ourselves in position to compete for the regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in postseason. We want to enjoy the moment tonight and then get back to work on Monday.”

Dordt (10-6, 5-3 GPAC) had been on a roll of its own coming into action. The Defenders had won six of their previous seven games with the only defeat during that run being a 2-1 decision against 18th-ranked Midland.

For the second year in a row, the Bulldogs will have an opportunity to claim a GPAC title on its home turf. A year after winning the conference tournament championship in Seward, Concordia can lock up an outright GPAC regular-season title by defeating No. 20 Hastings (13-1-2, 7-0-1 GPAC) on Wednesday (Oct. 25) inside Bulldog Stadium. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. CT.

Bulldogs aiming for outright GPAC title in showdown with Broncos

SEWARD, Neb. – For the second time in less than a year, the Concordia University women’s soccer team can claim a GPAC tournament title on its home turf. On Nov. 10, 2016, the Bulldogs toppled Morningside in the conference championship game in front of the most frenzied women’s soccer crowd ever seen on Concordia’s campus. Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad would love to experience that same type of atmosphere on Wednesday when No. 20 Hastings makes its way to Seward for a 5:30 p.m. CT kickoff.

In terms of regular-season action, it doesn’t get any bigger than this. Still unbeaten in conference play, the Bulldogs (12-2-3, 8-0-1 GPAC) would lock up an outright GPAC regular-season championship with a win over the Broncos (13-1-2, 7-0-1 GPAC). On the flip side, Hastings would sew up at least a share of the conference crown if it can walk out of Bulldog Stadium with a victory.

“We want to keep from putting any extra undue pressure on the team,” Henson said. “We’ve done all the hard work up until this point to put ourselves in position to compete for the regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the postseason. The team is excited about the opportunity they have on Wednesday. It’s always a good and competitive battle when Concordia and Hastings get together.”

Now a seasoned junior, captain Maria Deeter knows exactly what it’s like to compete in games of great significance. She and her teammates were blown away by the crowd that gathered in Seward for the 2016 GPAC championship game. Deeter also starred in a memorable shootout win at 16th-ranked Hastings in the 2015 GPAC semifinals.

The past four Concordia-Hastings matchups have each taken place at Lloyd Wilson Field. The last time the Bulldogs hosted the Broncos, it resulted in a stunning 2-1 Concordia win over No. 16 Hastings on Oct. 29, 2014. The Bulldogs proved it was no fluke, knocking off the Broncos again in that year’s GPAC title game.

“The Hastings game is always exciting,” Deeter said. “The fact that we have a chance to win the conference outright makes it that much more exciting. I think we’re ready for it. We just have to go out and play our game. That will be the key, just playing our game and not getting caught up in all the other things that come with it.”

Remarkably, Concordia is unbeaten (16-0-1) in its last 17 games against conference opponents. During that stretch it has outscored opponents by a combined total of 55-4 and has recorded 13 shutouts. Even the graduation of record-breaking goalkeeper Chrissy Lind failed to stop the Bulldogs’ roll. Lindsey Carley has stepped in as goalkeeper and ranks 10th nationally in goals against average.

Carley and company pulled off their most significant win of the season last week at No. 18 Midland. A Kaitlyn Radebaugh goal was all Concordia needed to sink the Warriors’ own hopes of winning the regular-season title. The Bulldogs may not be the team with the national ranking next to their name, but they have proven it foolish to take them lightly.

“I think any time a team is ranked it puts a little more of a target on their back,” Deeter said. “You want to prove that you deserve to be there and they’re a beatable team. It adds a little extra motivation to show the rest of the teams that we can play with them.”

Based upon recent results, there’s no question Concordia can play with Hastings, which has yet to suffer a GPAC regular-season loss since stepping on a landmine at Bulldog Stadium in 2014. Concordia aspires to make the Broncos’ Wednesday visit just as treacherous. Deeter says a boost from a big and loud crowd would only help the cause.

“Definitely come out and support us,” Deeter said. “This game and the next couple games, we need all the help we can get. We’ve put in the work thus far to put ourselves in this situation. I have no doubt that Bulldog Nation’s going to come out and cheer us on, hopefully to a win.”

Concordia has already clinched one of the top two seeds in the GPAC tournament. That means the Bulldogs will be hosting one of four GPAC postseason quarterfinal games at 7 p.m. CT on Thursday, Nov. 2. The other dates for the conference tournament are Tuesday, Nov. 7 for the semifinals and Friday, Nov. 10 for the championship game. Concordia’s regular season will end on Wednesday night.

All Bulldog home games can be watched live via the Concordia Sports Network.

Carley upgraded to NAIA national player of the week

NAIA release | GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – Already named a GPAC weekly honoree Tuesday (Oct. 24) morning, sophomore Lindsey Carley rose to the status of NAIA National Women’s Soccer Defensive Player of the Week in the afternoon. A Concordia women’s soccer player has now garnered a GPAC weekly award for the fifth time this fall. Carley reeled in the same conference defensive player of the week accolade on Sept. 5. Teammates Sami Birmingham, Victoria Cera and Maria Deeter have each been named a GPAC player of the week once in 2017.

An Urbandale, Iowa, native, Carley is believed to be the first national player of the week in program history. Carley and the Bulldogs are on an incredible run in terms of keeping opponents off the scorebcoard. Still in first place in the GPAC, Concordia has surrendered just one goal through the first nine games of conference play. While earning a pair of shutouts last week, Carley made a combined 10 saves while holding down the goalkeeper spot for all 180 minutes. One of last week’s shutouts came over No. 18 Midland in a 1-0 upset victory.

Carley ranks 10th nationally in goals against average (0.500). She was honored as the Bulldog Athletic Association Athlete of the Month for September. On the season, she has made 51 saves and has a .895 save percentage. She has allowed just six goals in more than 1,000 minutes of play.

Concordia (12-2-3, 8-0-1 GPAC) will host No. 20 Hastings (13-1-2, 7-0-1 GPAC) at 5:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday. The Bulldogs would clinch the GPAC regular-season title outright with a win. The conference tournament is set to begin with the quarterfinals on Thursday, Nov. 2.

GPAC players of the week in 2017
Oct. 24 – *Lindsey Carley
Oct. 17 – Sami Birmingham
Sept. 19 – Victoria Cera
Sept. 5 – Lindsey Carley
Aug. 29 – Maria Deeter
*NAIA National Defensive Player of the Week

Concordia tops No. 20 Hastings, seizes outright GPAC title

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University women’s soccer program has checked many boxes in recent years. It checked off one more on Wednesday evening in the most meaningful regular-season women’s soccer contest ever staged inside Bulldog Stadium. With an outright GPAC regular-season title on the line, the Bulldogs sent No. 20 Hastings packing with a 1-0 defeat.

Under fifth-year head coach Greg Henson, Concordia had already seized GPAC tournament titles in 2014 and 2016. Now the Bulldogs get to add a conference regular-season championship trophy to their growing list of accomplishments. Concordia will enter the postseason with records of 13-2-3 overall and 9-0-1 in GPAC competition.

“It feels great. All the credit to the players,” Henson said. “They’ve had a tremendous season. As soon as we got into the conference season, our level has just picked up. I feel like we’ve gotten better and better each game that has gone on. The players buy into that one-game-at-a-time mentality. It’s cliché, but it’s so true at this time of year. One of our goals for the program was to win the regular-season championship. I couldn’t be any more proud of the players on this roster.”

The game’s first and only goal finally came right at the 66-minute mark. It started with a battle in the box initiated by a pass from junior Maria Deeter. Senior Esther Soenksen flew to the ball and rushed a shot that was quickly deflected. After getting knocked to the ground, freshman Kaitlyn Radebaugh sprung to her feet, won the ensuing race and floated the ball from right to left past Hastings keeper Lexi Harris.

No moment has proven too big for the freshman from Roca, Neb. Radebaugh has pulled even for the team goal scoring lead with nine on the year. Henson has called upon her all season to provide an offensive spark off the bench. She also notched the game winner last week at Midland.

“It was very surreal. I’m just amazed,” Radebaugh said. “I couldn’t really believe it at first. I saw the ball hit the back of the net. I’m just so happy.”

The last 24 minutes were about holding off the Broncos (13-2-2, 7-1-1 GPAC). Concordia fended away Hastings despite being at an 11-0 disadvantage in corner kicks. The Broncos very nearly grabbed a lead during a sequence of corner kicks just before the 60-minute mark. The quick reflexes of NAIA National Defensive Player of the Week Lindsey Carley kept the Broncos off the board. Carley made consecutive saves on shots right in front of the goal.

In holding Hastings scoreless, the Bulldogs completed an incredible run of defensive play in conference action. Concordia turned in nine clean sheets and surrendered just one goal all season against GPAC opponents. Carley made six saves on Wednesday to preserve the shutout. On many of Hastings’ corner kicks, Deeter dismissed the threats by heading the ball up field.

Before the conference tournament gets underway, it’s fair to take a moment to marvel at how the Bulldogs have continually rose up in their most significant of opportunities. Last week they positioned themselves for a chance to celebrate on Wednesday by posting 1-0 road wins over No. 18 Midland and Dordt. During Henson’s tenure, Concordia seems to be at its best when the stakes are highest.

“For our program, Hastings and Midland are big rivals,” Henson said. “Morningside is always a big rival as well. It doesn’t take much for our players to get up for those games. They’re excited. They circle those dates on the calendar. The GPAC is getting better and better every season in women’s soccer. There are very few days off.

“To win a championship, whether it’s regular season or tournament, you’re not always going to play beautiful soccer. Sometimes you have to grind out the win. I thought our players did that today.”

Hastings has reigned as the Goliath during the GPAC era. The Broncos had won three regular-season championships in a row. They had not suffered a defeat in a GPAC regular-season game since the Bulldogs upset them, 2-1, on Oct. 29, 2014.

Now it’s on to postseason play. As the No. 1 seed, Concordia will welcome the No. 8 seed to Bulldog Stadium for a GPAC quarterfinal contest at 7 p.m. CT on Thursday, Nov. 2. The Bulldogs have earned the right to host as long as they remain alive in the tournament. The other dates for the GPAC postseason are Nov. 7 for the semifinals and Nov. 10 for the championship game.

Regular-season champs set to begin GPAC tournament title defense

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

Carley collects third GPAC weekly honor of 2017

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – For the second week in a row and for the third time in 2017, sophomore Lindsey Carley has been named the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Women’s Soccer Defensive Player of the Week, as announced on Tuesday (Oct. 31) by the league. This marks the sixth GPAC weekly award pulled in by the conference regular-season champion Concordia women’s soccer program this fall. Other winners were Sami Birmingham (Oct. 17), Victoria Cera (Sept. 19) and Maria Deeter (Aug. 29).

Last week Carley and company recorded their ninth shutout during conference play. The native of Urbandale, Iowa, made six saves in a 1-0 victory over No. 20 Hastings on Oct. 25. The win put the Bulldogs at 9-0-1 in the GPAC and wrapped up the program’s first-ever conference regular-season championship. Carley also recorded 10 combined saves the previous week and was named the NAIA National Defensive Player of the Week.

As a team, Concordia ranks 18th nationally in terms of fewest goals allowed per game (0.67). Having been credited with six shutouts this season, Carley has moved up to eighth nationally in goals against average (0.460). Her save percentage stands at .905. Carley has now started 13 of the team’s 18 games.

The top-seeded Bulldogs (13-2-3, 9-0-1 GPAC) are getting set to host eighth-seeded Morningside (8-9, 4-6 GPAC) at 7 p.m. on Thursday in the GPAC tournament quarterfinals. The winner will play again next Tuesday (Nov. 7) in the semifinals.

GPAC players of the week in 2017
Oct. 31 – Lindsey Carley
Oct. 24 – *Lindsey Carley
Oct. 17 – Sami Birmingham
Sept. 19 – Victoria Cera
Sept. 5 – Lindsey Carley
Aug. 29 – Maria Deeter
*NAIA National Defensive Player of the Week

Women's soccer makes return to national rankings

NAIA top 25 poll (Oct. 31)

SEWARD, Neb. – For the sixth time in school history, the Concordia University women’s soccer program has moved into the NAIA Women’s Soccer Coaches’ Top 25 Poll. Wins over No. 18 Midland and No. 20 Hastings were part of a stretch run that clinched the program’s first-ever outright conference regular-season title and earned some national street cred. In the poll released on Tuesday (Oct. 31), head coach Greg Henson’s squad checked in at No. 22.

The Bulldogs ended last season listed among “others receiving votes” after capturing their second GPAC tournament title in three seasons. Concordia began receiving votes again last week. Its GPAC regular-season title-clinching win over Hastings then pushed it over the top.

All of the program’s national rankings have come during Henson’s tenure. After topping then No. 20 Hastings in the 2014 GPAC championship game, the Bulldogs rose to No. 24 in the national poll, marking the program’s first-ever appearance inside the top 25. On the heels of that title, the 2015 squad garnered national rankings in each of the season’s first four polls. The high-water mark for the program is the No. 16 rating it received in September of 2015.

The top-seeded Bulldogs (13-2-3, 9-0-1 GPAC) are getting set to host eighth-seeded Morningside (8-9, 4-6 GPAC) at 7 p.m. on Thursday in the GPAC tournament quarterfinals. The winner will play again next Tuesday (Nov. 7) in the semifinals.

All-time national rankings

Oct. 31 – 22nd

Oct. 6 – 23rd
Sept. 29 – 18th
Sept. 22 – 16th
Aug. 18 – 21st

Nov. 16 – 24th

Top seeded Concordia survives and advances

SEWARD, Neb. – The program’s first GPAC regular-season title and conference tournament No. 1 seed did not come gift wrapped with a cakewalk of a quarterfinal matchup for the Concordia University women’s soccer team. Up against the rival it met in each of the past two league championship games, the 22nd-ranked Bulldogs brushed aside the upset bid of eighth-seeded Morningside by a 2-1 final score in a tense affair inside Bulldog Stadium on Thursday (Nov. 2) night.

Make that four wins in a row by a margin of just a single goal for a team comfortable seeing out closely contested games. Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s program has now reached at least the GPAC semifinals in each year of his tenure – with postseason titles occurring in 2014 and 2016.

Henson’s ninth postseason victory had to be sweated out – even on a night with temperatures in the 40s. Said Henson, “On paper they’re an eight seed, but definitely not deserving of an eight seed. They’re a much more dangerous team than that. It’s always the concern as a coach coming in that you’re playing a lower seed and you’re going to look past them. I don’t think that was the case at all just because our players are very familiar with Morningside.”

A surprising number of shots were created by the visitors against a Concordia team that had gone nearly a full month since last surrendering a goal. When pushed, the Bulldogs showed their championship mettle. The game-winning goal in the 64th minute was a beauty. Lauren Martin played a quick touch to Esther Soenksen who tapped the ball right back to a darting Martin, who then drilled a 25-yard strike that left Mustang keeper Niccole McGuire no chance.

Martin is just one of many Bulldogs that knows her role and does it well. The transfer from St. Cloud State University says she and her teammates are unsatisfied with simply winning a regular-season championship.

“It’s really great winning the GPAC in the regular season, but it means nothing unless you win the GPAC tournament,” Martin said. “Our motivation is to go to nationals and to get further and do better than last year. We’re trying to compete with ourselves and our previous years.”

The Mustangs (8-10) took the fight to Concordia after a hustle goal by Soenksen put the home team up 1-0 in the 10th minute. Morningside racked up 18 shots, including 10 on goal. What looked like a mostly unthreatening maneuver by Paytn Harmon culminated with an equalizer in the 21st minute.

In a somewhat disjointed performance, the Bulldogs are still difficult to conquer on their home turf. Henson’s teams are now 5-0 at home in postseason play. Keeping that unblemished record required solid efforts from star Maria Deeter in the midfield, back line anchor Chelsea Bright and many others. Sophomore goalkeeper Lindsey Carley regrouped after allowing a goal and made nine saves, including a particularly noteworthy leaping denial in the 74th minute.

“In segments we played very well,” Henson said. “In some segments it got a little ugly. The last four games in a row we’ve been in a grind-it-out mode. That obviously served us well tonight.”

Concordia certainly had its share of opportunities on the attacking end, registering 20 shots – nine on goal. Soenksen came close to enjoying a multiple goal night. She hit the post on one of her attempts in the second half. She led all players with five shots.

Fifth-seeded Northwestern (11-5-3) stands in the way of the Bulldogs’ fourth appearance in a row in the GPAC championship game. The Red Raiders were the only GPAC team to avoid a loss to Concordia during the regular season.

“The best team for 90 minutes is going to win the game on Tuesday,” Henson said. “All the history and everything that happened in the past is in the past. We’ll come out ready to go and we’ll expect a good game from Northwestern.”

Tuesday’s (Nov. 7) kickoff inside Bulldog Stadium is slated for 7 p.m. CT. The winner will play either second-seeded Hastings (15-2-2) or third-seeded Midland (14-2-2) in the championship game on Friday, Nov. 10.

Title game spot on the line Tuesday night

SEWARD, Neb. – The GPAC regular-season champion Concordia University women’s soccer team stands one win away from reaching the conference tournament championship game for the fourth season in a row. Ranked 22nd nationally, the Bulldogs staved off eighth-seeded Morningside in last week’s quarterfinals to set up Tuesday’s tilt with Northwestern. Concordia and the visiting Red Raiders are set to kick off at 7 p.m. CT inside Bulldog Stadium.

Nothing comes easy this time of year. Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s squad needed a highlight reel strike from Lauren Martin in the 64th minute to help lift the Bulldogs to a 2-1 win over the Mustangs. The reigning GPAC tournament champs will get another strong push on Tuesday.

“The best team for 90 minutes is going to win the game on Tuesday,” Henson said following last week’s win. “All the history and everything that happened in the past is in the past. We’ll come out ready to go and we’ll expect a good game from Northwestern.”

Concordia seemed to be an impenetrable force until Morningside’s Paytn Harmon found the back of the net in the 21st minute of last week’s quarterfinal game. The Bulldogs had allowed just one goal during its 10-game undefeated GPAC regular-season run. Team anchors like midfielder Maria Deeter, center back Chelsea Bright and goalkeeper Lindsey Carley have helped make Concordia the 20th most difficult team in the nation to score upon (0.68 goals against average).

Air-tight defensive play has given the opposition little margin for error. No Bulldog has reached double figures in goals yet, but six different players have tallied five or more goals: Deeter (nine), Kaitlyn Radebaugh (nine), Sami Birmingham (eight), Esther Soenksen (seven), Lauren Martin (six) and Jeannelle Condame (five). Concordia has outscored its opponents by a combined total of 54-13.

Since the beginning of 2014, the Bulldogs have gone 9-2-1 in the GPAC tournament – with the one tie resulting in a shootout win at Hastings. Concordia is 5-0 in GPAC postseason home contests during Henson’s tenure.

“It’s really great winning the GPAC in the regular season, but it means nothing unless you win the GPAC tournament,” Lauren Martin said. “Our motivation is to go to nationals and to get further and do better than last year. We’re trying to compete with ourselves and our previous years.”

Northwestern reached the semifinals by getting past fourth-seeded Dordt, 1-0, on the road. The Red Raiders (11-5-3) also feature a stingy defensive unit. Northwestern played to a 0-0 double overtime draw with the Bulldogs back on Oct. 7. Goalkeeper Naomi Schimmel can cover for any mistakes that are made in the back line. She’s saved 142 shots (13th most in the nation).

Tuesday’s winner will move on to the championship game and play either second-seeded Hastings (15-2-2) or third-seeded Midland (14-2-2) on Friday (Nov. 10). Concordia won GPAC tournament titles in 2014 and 2016.

2017 GPAC Women’s Soccer Tournament

Thursday, Nov. 2 – Quarterfinals
No. 1 Concordia 2, No. 8 Morningside 1
No. 5 Northwestern 1, No. 4 Dordt 0
No. 3 Midland 2, No. 6 Briar Cliff 1 (OT)
No. 2 Hastings 10, No. 7 College of Saint Mary 0

Tuesday, Nov. 7 – Semifinals
No. 5 Northwestern (11-5-3) at No. 1 Concordia (14-2-3)
No. 3 Midland (14-2-2) at No. 2 Hastings (15-2-2)

Friday, Nov. 10 – Championship
Time TBA

Bulldogs march to GPAC final for fourth-straight year

SEWARD, Neb. – An entire senior class has filtered through unaware of what’s like to miss the GPAC tournament championship game. This year’s conference tournament run has hardly been a breeze, but the Concordia University women’s soccer team is headed back to the GPAC final for the fourth year in a row. A pair of set piece goals lifted the top-seeded and 21st nationally ranked Bulldogs to a 2-1 win over fifth-seeded Northwestern in Tuesday (Nov. 7) evening’s postseason semifinal round.

Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson is hoping to guide the program to its third GPAC tournament title in four years. Outright champions of the conference regular season, Concordia moved to 15-2-3 overall this season and is set to host the GPAC championship tilt for the second year in a row.

“We’ve had two very tough opponents. We haven’t had a very easy trip back to the final,” Henson said. “Northwestern and Morningside are both quality opponents that gave us everything we could handle. We’re back in the championship game, which was one of our goals. That lies in wait for us on Friday against a familiar foe in Hastings.”

For all the recent success that the Bulldogs have enjoyed, something about a feisty, defensive-minded Red Raider program has made matchups similar to pulling teeth. Amidst Concordia’s 9-0-1 unbeaten run through the regular season, the only team it failed to beat was Northwestern, which pushed the Bulldogs to a 0-0 double overtime draw on Oct. 7. Not since the 2008 season had Concordia figured out how to claim a win over the Red Raiders.

It was time. Said junior captain Maria Deeter, “I think we were all excited that we got a rematch against them because we didn’t get the win before. They’re someone that has just had our number. It was nice to go out and prove to ourselves and everyone else that the monkey’s off our back and we can play and beat anyone in this conference.”

Both goals were facilitated by senior Jeannelle Condame, who has a long established reputation for putting opponents in danger in set-piece situations. Condame delivered a corner into the box that found Deeter for a well-placed header, resulting in the game’s first goal in the 45th minute. The Bulldogs would need one more. It came at the 54-minute mark when Condame lofted a free kick in a perfect spot for freshman Victoria Cera to head the ball into the back of the net from about 12 yards out.

Not a single goal was scored during the run of play, a testament to the defensive prowess of both sides.

“It was just two very defensively strong teams that played tonight,” Henson said. “I thought we created a number of chances that we were unable to capitalize on. They made life difficult for us. The same on the other end. I thought our team did a nice job of closing it out. Postseason comes down to set pieces and things of that nature.”

Concordia had to overcome one of its mistakes when it got whistled for a foul in the box in the final 30 seconds of the first half. Northwestern’s Sarah Beaton took advantage by drilling the ensuing penalty kick, evening the game up, 1-1, going to the half. But the Bulldogs, 6-0 when playing at home in the GPAC tournament during Henson’s tenure, never flinched.

“We know what it’s like and it kind of helps with the nerves,” Deeter said. “We can tell the younger ones what to expect. No matter what, each game is different. Each opponent is different. We just have to show up ready to play.”

Concordia outshot the Red Raiders, 19-8, and held a narrow 7-6 edge in shots on goal. Both goalkeepers – Lindsey Carley and Naomi Schimmel – made five saves. Deeter was particularly active, recording six shots, including four on goal.

Friday’s championship game inside Bulldog Stadium is set to get underway at 7 p.m. CT. Opposing Hastings (15-2-3) got past No. 25 Midland in a penalty kick shootout following 110 minutes of scoreless action on Tuesday. The Bulldogs topped the Broncos, 1-0, in Seward on Oct. 25.

GPAC title game features rivalry renewal

SEWARD, Neb. – Three years ago, the Concordia University women’s soccer program came out of nowhere, advanced to the conference tournament championship game and upset then 20th-ranked Hastings in a watershed moment for the program. Fast forward to the present and you find a Bulldog team no longer serving the role of underdog. Top-seeded Concordia will host second-seeded Hastings at 7 p.m. CT in Friday’s GPAC tournament championship game.

Fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s program owns a streak of 20-straight games against GPAC opponents without a loss. At 15-2-3 overall, the Bulldogs need one more victory to tie a school single-season record. Members of the team are looking forward to defending their 2016 conference tournament title on Friday night.

“I’m pretty confident they’re going to turn out,” said junior captain Maria Deeter. “Bulldogs support Bulldogs in any and all sports. It’s exciting because all the hard work we’ve put in, we get to show it off to the rest of the campus. We’ve worked and grinded since preseason. Friday we just come out have fun, play our game and hopefully get another championship.”

A GPAC finalist for the fourth year in a row, 21st ranked Concordia has had to sweat out wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals. The Bulldogs got past both eighth-seeded Morningside and fifth-seeded Northwestern by identical 2-1 final scores. Game-winning goals were credited to junior Lauren Martin and freshman Victoria Cera. Concordia had not beaten the Red Raiders since the 2008 season.

The Bulldogs have been a mostly air-tight defensive unit. They allowed only one goal during the entire 10-game GPAC regular-season slate. Concordia has actually surrendered a goal in back-to-back games for the first time since the middle of September. Goalkeeper Lindsey Carley ranks ninth nationally in goals against average. With a header goal on Tuesday, Deeter retook the team goals lead to herself with 10. She also has 10 assists. Kaitlyn Radebaugh and Sami Birmingham are right on her heels with nine and eight goals, respectively.

Perennially a league favorite, Hastings is making its first appearance in the conference tournament championship game since falling victim to the Bulldogs in 2014. The Broncos’ most recent GPAC tournament title came in 2013. Head coach Chris Clements’ squad has advanced to Friday’s final on the strength of a 10-0 demolition of seventh-seeded College of Saint Mary in the quarterfinals and then a penalty kick shootout win over Midland following 110 minutes of scoreless action. Senior forward Heidi Bartsch is tied for the conference lead with 18 goals on the year.

Hastings is the most recent GPAC women’s soccer program to sweep both conference regular season and postseason titles. The Broncos accomplished that feat in 2011. In the years since then, four different teams have claimed at least one GPAC tournament championship: Concordia (2014, 2016), Doane (2012), Hastings (2013) and Morningside (2015).

Friday’s game will be carried live by the Concordia Sports Network. The winner will earn an automatic bid to the opening round of the national championships (Nov. 18).

2017 GPAC Women’s Soccer Tournament

Thursday, Nov. 2 – Quarterfinals
No. 1 Concordia 2, No. 8 Morningside 1
No. 5 Northwestern 1, No. 4 Dordt 0
No. 3 Midland 2, No. 6 Briar Cliff 1 (OT)
No. 2 Hastings 10, No. 7 College of Saint Mary 0

Tuesday, Nov. 7 – Semifinals
No. 1 Concordia 2, No. 5 Northwestern 1
No. 2 Hastings 0, No. 3 Midland 0 (2 OT)
*Hastings advanced 3-1 on penalty kicks

Friday, Nov. 10 – Championship
No. 2 Hastings (15-2-3) at No. 1 Concordia (15-2-3), 7 p.m.

Sister act: the reunification of the Martin twins

The Martins are real living proof that absence does in fact make the heart grow fonder. Twin sisters from Longmont, Colorado, Ashley and Lauren spent their first years of college separated by roughly 450 miles of interstate. Only rarely did they communicate. There were happy birthday exchanges on November 30, but for the most part, they were going about their own lives in different states, far from home.

“We didn’t talk for the first semester at all,” Lauren said. “Not even a ‘Hey.’ I think the first time we talked was on our birthdays at the end of November. It was really the only reason we even reached out. It actually improved our relationship.”

Lauren is now in her second year at Concordia after transferring from St. Cloud State University (Minn.). That decision brought about a reunion with Ashley, who came to Concordia directly out of Silver Creek High School. Together they have helped recreate the magic they produced as high school seniors, like the time they combined on a memorable ‘twin goal.’ Lauren assisted Ashley on a game-winning goal that sunk rival Longmont High School and sewed up a conference championship.

The duo is still giving opponents headaches while terrorizing them on the wings – Ashley as a defender and Lauren in more of an attacking role. Ashley is a two-time all-conference defender and a central figure for two GPAC championship teams. If you missed last week’s GPAC quarterfinal, you missed one of the season’s most brilliant goals. Lauren went upper 90 for a game winner to defeat Morningside.

Those are just the latest chapters of a sisterhood strengthened by soccer – and by that year apart.

“In high school our relationship really struggled just because we were constantly competing,” Ashley said. “College was an opportunity to get away from each other. Then the opportunity arose for Lauren to come here when she was transferring. It went so well the first year of college and we were so much closer that I was like, ‘Yes, come here.’”

Lauren didn’t feel like she necessarily needed Ashley’s approval, but it certainly helped smoothen the process. Head coach Greg Henson first noticed Ashley at a camp in Kansas during her junior year of high school. What stood out most about Ashley was her high-energy, high-intensity style on the field. Ashley and Lauren both visited the Concordia campus before making their final decisions.

At first, Lauren felt like a big school atmosphere was the right way to go. Perhaps it was at the time, but here the Martins are together again. Henson is glad it worked out that way.

“They’re a dynamic duo in a lot of different ways,” Henson said. “They obviously know each other very, very well. Sometimes that’s a positive. Sometimes that can mean too much intensity on one side of the field. Generally speaking, it’s a positive having those two together. When we do match those two up on the same side of the field, what a nightmare it creates for the opposing team.”

Amidst the scenic painting-like ranges of The Flatirons in the Boulder, Colorado, area, the Martins began playing soccer about as early as their memories stretch. Both Ashley and Lauren also played hockey. Lauren especially liked the pace and physicality of hockey. Though soccer hadn’t necessarily been in the family’s background, Ashley and Lauren were coached by their father Scott as youths. They fell in love with the sport that also fostered many of their childhood friendships. Soccer remained a constant as they worked their way up the ranks and eventually joined the FC Boulder club.

Through it all, there have been just two instances in which the twins did not play for the same soccer team. Even as teammates, there has always been a sibling rivalry. Said Ashley, “Lauren and I were always constant competitors because we always wanted to be the best. I don’t think either one of us would have said it when we were little, but I think we can both see now that we pushed each other to be the players we are today. Without her, I wouldn’t be the same player that I am. That competition made me want to be the best person I could be. I wanted to beat Lauren and say that I was better than Lauren.”

It's almost as if some magnetic field keeps pulling the Martin twins together. They’re even living with each other this school year. It’s quite a leap for sisters that seemed so ready to take diverging paths following their high school careers.

“It’s actually not that bad,” said Lauren jokingly in response to again living with Ashley. “We have different schedules and ways to escape with different friends and groups. We have different majors too, so there’s ways to escape if we need it.”

On the other hand, there is no escape from the Martins for Concordia’s opposition. They will lead the Bulldogs into Friday’s (Nov. 10) GPAC tournament championship game. When kickoff arrives, Hastings will have to deal with a Concordia starting 11 that includes both Ashley and Lauren.

Bulldog Stadium will be the place to be on Friday – as it has proven to be all along for the Martin twins. “This is the place,” says Lauren when reflecting upon her journey. “After going to a big school, I really enjoy it here. Seeing Ashley have success here her freshman year and the way she was enjoying the team made me want to come. It made me desire to be here and be part of what the soccer team was achieving.”

Ashley and Lauren share a bond that is different from their relationships with any of their other teammates. Sometimes they argue. Sometimes they fight. Sometimes they get sick of each other. Often times they play soccer together. Always, they will love each other.

Says Ashley, “Lauren and I know each other the best of anyone. It’s because we’re so close that we do bicker sometimes. We’ve had a lifetime to build up annoyances between each other. I don’t think people realize how close we are because we do bicker. We’re twins and we’ve lived our whole lives together.”

Bulldogs suffer PK heartbreak in GPAC title game

SEWARD, Neb. – While making its annual march to the GPAC title game, the Concordia University women’s soccer team provided a large Bulldog Stadium crowd with plenty of drama on Friday (Nov. 10). The only guarantee after 110 minutes of soccer was that one side was about to experience jubilation while the other slumped in agony. Seward became heartbreak city when second-seeded Hastings spoiled the party by taking the penalty kick shootout, 3-2, following a 0-0 draw.

This is likely the end of the line for fifth-year head coach Greg Henson’s 21st-ranked squad. Outright GPAC regular-season champions, the Bulldogs are now 15-2-4 after Friday’s contest officially goes in the books as a tie.

When the pain of Friday’s cruel ending subsides, the many accomplishments of the 2017 Concordia women’s soccer team will be placed in their proper perspective.

“Game in and game out there’s never been a doubt in my mind that they’re going to go out and play hard and do all the little things that are necessary for us to be successful,” Henson said. “It’s been that way all year. I’m just really proud of their efforts throughout the game tonight, but really just throughout the season. We went completely through the regular season and postseason without losing a game and giving up three goals. It’s remarkable.”

In so many ways, Friday’s game was an evenly matched battle between the league’s two best teams. Hastings held a slight 16-15 shot advantage. It forced Bulldog goalkeeper Lindsey Carley to make nine saves to preserve the shutout. There were a number of close calls on both attacking ends. Right around the 70th minute mark, Concordia’s Lauren Martin drilled the crossbar and the ensuing rebound was headed into the keeper’s arms by Esther Soenksen. The Broncos also had a double overtime shot pepper the right post.

That meant a winner had to be decided in a shootout. The Bulldogs gained the upper hand when Maria Deeter and Sami Birmingham both converted their PK’s and Carley stopped an attempt by Emmy Henely. Concordia then failed on its final three PK’s and Hastings and goalkeeping hero Emma Toohey celebrated on a bitingly cold Nebraska night. The Broncos proceeded to rattle the victory bell, an act that likely won’t be forgotten when the two rivals meet up in future seasons.

While staring a rough beat in the face, the Bulldogs can take pride in the special nature of what they have built. The seniors will leave behind an impressive legacy. Over four years, they have combined to go 60-16-10 with four conference championship game appearances, two GPAC tournament titles, two national tournament berths and one conference regular-season championship.

“I’m extremely proud of our senior class and those five that have had an unbelievable four-year career,” Henson said. “They’re 9-1-2 in playoff games and that’s unheard of. I’m grateful that they came in and they believed in the vision I had for the program. They came in before we really had any success and have been the heart and soul of this program. They’ll be dearly missed. You can’t say enough about what they’ve accomplished. They made it such an easy job to coach.”

Concordia had been aiming to become the first GPAC women’s soccer program to sweep conference regular season and postseason titles since 2011. The Bulldogs still have not been beaten by a GPAC opponent since Oct. 12, 2016.

The national tournament qualifying field will be announced by the NAIA on Monday (Nov. 13). The harsh reality is that the loser of Friday’s title game was unlikely to pull in an at-large national tournament berth.

GPAC Championship Game History
2017 – Concordia 0, Hastings 0 (HC wins PK shootout)
2016 – Concordia 3, Morningside 1
2015 – Morningside 2, Concordia 1
2014 – Concordia 1, Hastings 0

Carley, Henson highlight All-GPAC teams with major honors

GPAC release

2017 All-GPAC

Greg Henson – Coach of the Year

First Team

Chelsea Bright
Lindsey Carley (Defensive Player of the Year)
Maria Deeter

Second Team
Lauren Martin
Kaitlyn Radebaugh

Honorable Mention
Sami Birmingham
Tori Cera
Michaela Twito

SEWARD, Neb. – An impressive haul of postseason honors rolled in Monday (Nov. 13) for the GPAC regular-season champion Concordia University women’s soccer team. Major awards were handed out to sophomore goalkeeper Lindsey Carley, the GPAC Defensive Player of the Year, and Greg Henson, the GPAC Coach of the Year. Carley was joined on the GPAC’s first team by fellow Bulldogs in junior midfielder Maria Deeter and freshman defender Chelsea Bright.

Concordia also placed two players on the all-conference second team: junior midfielder Lauren Martin and freshman forward Kaitlyn Radebaugh. Honorable mention accolades were awarded to sophomore forward Sami Birmingham and to freshmen midfielders Tori Cera and Michaela Twito.

Henson picked up a coaching honor that was long overdue. Having just finished his fifth season leading the Bulldogs, Henson has led the program to three conference championships (two postseason, one regular season), two national tournament berths and a total of 60 wins over the past four years. The 2017 team went unbeaten (9-0-1) through conference regular season action and earned the GPAC’s No. 1 seed.

Carley is the second player in program history to earn a conference player of the year award and is the first since Jennifer Davis garnered GPAC player of the year honors in 2003. It’s been a remarkable defensive run for Carley and the Bulldogs. A three-time GPAC player of the week and a national player of the week once this season, Carley starred for a squad that allowed just one goal during the entire 10-game GPAC regular season run. A native of Urbandale, Iowa, Carley ranked ninth nationally in goals against average (0.490). While starting 17 games and playing nearly 1,500 minutes, Carley posted a .909 save percentage (80 saves) and was credited with seven shutouts.

Voted the team MVP in 2015 and 2016, Deeter was a finalist for the GPAC Offensive Player of the Year honor. This marks her second-straight appearance on the GPAC’s first team after collecting second team recognition as a freshman in 2015. This season the Seward native set career highs for goals (10) and assists (10) while starting all 21 games. Over 63 career games played, Deeter has totaled 23 goals and 21 assists. She is likely to be named an all-region choice for the third-consecutive year.

Bright, who hails from Van Meter, Iowa, quickly acquitted herself in her first season as a collegiate player. Bright served as another major reason why GPAC opponents struggled mightily to score on Concordia. Bright started all 21 games at center back, alongside senior Leah Shohat. As a team, the Bulldogs ranked 15th nationally in terms of fewest goals allowed per game (0.67).

Martin, a native of Longmont, Colo., was one of seven Bulldogs to produce at least five goals this fall. She finished with six goals and six assists as one of six players to start each game this season. Three of her goals were game winners, including her highlight reel goal that lifted Concordia over Morningside in the GPAC quarterfinals. A transfer from St. Cloud State University (Minn.), Marting has tallied eight goals and eight assists in 43 career games as a Bulldog.

Radebaugh, who calls Roca, Neb., home, filled the role of offensive sparkplug off the bench for this year’s squad. She finished second on the team with nine goals, including three game winners. The Norris High School product emerged as a hero in two of the season’s most significant contests – 1-0 wins over Midland and Hastings. Radebaugh turned in the lone goal in both outings. She saw action in all 21 games.

A first team All-GPAC performer and all-region selection as a freshman last season, Birmingham (Johnston, Iowa) registered eight goals and four assists while starting all 21 games this season. She contributed three game-winning goals and collected one GPAC offensive player of the week honor. Cera (Las Vegas, Nev.) put up five goals and five assists as another constant in the starting lineup. She had a hat trick in the win at Waldorf University (Iowa) and was named GPAC offensive player of the week as a result. Twito (Ames, Iowa) shined in her rookie season. She chipped in with one goal and two assists while making 19 starts.

Championship season characterized by remarkably stingy defense

The locomotive that is the Concordia University women’s soccer program keeps chugging along, churning out seasons that once would have seemed like fairy tales. Down the stretch, the Bulldogs could not be beaten no matter the circumstances: road underdog against a ranked team, ‘trap game’ or a home matchup with everything on the line.

Yet another on-field celebration unfolded on Oct. 25 when Concordia used a 67th minute goal by freshman Kaitlyn Radebaugh to topple then 20th-ranked Hastings, clinching the outright GPAC regular-season title. One of the season’s only downers occurred when the Bulldogs fell in a penalty kick shootout in the conference championship game on Nov. 10. It was an otherwise stellar season.

“At the end of every season it takes a little while to really grasp what you’ve accomplished,” said GPAC Coach of the Year Greg Henson. “Winning the conference regular-season championship was something that we hadn’t been able to accomplish before. It was huge for us. We went 9-0-1 and only gave up one goal during the regular season – just a remarkable feat for our program. Penalty kick shootouts are always a difficult way to end a season, but it doesn’t take anything away from what we accomplished this year.”

This year’s team persevered through an 0-2-1 three-game stretch that occurred in early September. After a 2-1 overtime loss at Graceland University on Sept. 9, Concordia did not lose again while following the lead of junior captain Maria Deeter. GPAC opponents found the Bulldogs to be an impenetrable force. The lone goal Concordia allowed during its entire conference regular-season run came on Oct. 4 in a 5-1 win at Briar Cliff.

What looked like a huge question mark entering the season developed into a big strength. After record-breaking goalkeeper Chrissy Lind graduated, no one could have predicted that on Nov. 13 the next goalkeeper in line would be named the GPAC Defensive Player of the Year. That’s exactly what happened. Working in sync with a sturdy backline, Carley ranked in the top 10 nationally in goals against average and the Bulldogs did not miss a beat.

“The biggest thing about Lindsey is her demeanor. She’s just a calming presence in goal,” Henson said. “She communicates very well and distributes the ball very well. She makes the players in front of her comfortable that she’s going to take care of her job in her role and help them do theirs. She denies a lot of shots against her without having to make a save and that’s a huge component of the goalkeeping position. There’s nothing that really ever gets to her.”

In the midfield, Deeter continues to be a rock for this program. Now a two-time first team all-conference selection, the Seward native paced Concordia in both goals (10) and assists (10) and was a finalist for the GPAC Offensive Player of the Year award. Henson called Deeter the MVP of the entire conference. Deeter could be placed in just about any position, but she’s settled into a role in the middle of the field where she can make an impact both offensively and defensively.

Concordia’s defensive work deserves more attention. Carley was often kept clean by a group of defenders headlined by freshman center back Chelsea Bright and senior center back Leah Shohat. They were flanked by teammates such as Jeannelle Condame, Ashley Martin and Taylor Roby. Bright was another candidate for GPAC Defensive Player of the year after making a quick transition to college, but there is enough credit to go around.

“It took a commitment as a team defensively and buying into the importance of it,” Henson said. “It starts with the goalkeeper and then your backline. Chelsea Bright really stepped into a leadership role in the back four. Right next to her is Leah Shohat, our senior captain. Some of our veteran leadership allowed these young players to step in and do what they’re good at. The back four did a great job in addition to the midfield and some of our forwards with defensive responsibilities. The team really bought into that.”

Henson has proven very successful in his tenure at melding the newcomers with the talent already on board. Not only did Bright win a center back spot, fellow freshmen Tori Cera and Michaela Twito were fixtures in the starting lineup. Off the bench, Radebaugh consistently provided a spark in relief of Sami Birmingham in the striker role. Radebaugh’s nine goals were one shy of Deeter for a team best.

The good news for Henson was that he had a senior class that didn’t seem to mind who got the credit. The five seniors, including Condame, Shohat and Esther Soenksen, collaborated on 60 wins since the start of the 2014 season, a program record for most victories in a four-year stretch. Soenksen recorded 31 career goals. It’s a group that will be missed.

“This one’s going to be tough,” Henson said. “They walk out of here with 60 wins. That’s going to be tough for any class going forward to overtake. What a great group they are – all five that have been with us for the last four years. This is the last group that came into a non-winning program. They really bought into the vision I was selling about where this program was going to go – and they came in and made it happen. I’m going to miss having them around the team and at practice.”

It may be hard to believe it, but Deeter will have just one go-round left of college soccer. While the senior class included several key pieces, the Bulldogs figure to be in position to win frequently again in 2018. She’s enjoyed the ride so far.

Says Deeter, “To see what we’ve accomplished as a team is pretty awesome. The fact that I’ve been able to be part of it – I can’t ask for anything else. There are still goals that we want to accomplish. There’s no doubt that I’ve done everything I can and I’ve worked as hard as I can. Work rate-wise, we’ve done about as much as I could have dreamed of us doing.”