by Mary Wheeler and April Bayer
Following one of the most successful seasons in the program’s history, the Concordia women’s soccer team is off to a stellar start toward its goal of reaching the national stage once again.
Last year, the women made history by winning the GPAC tournament for the first time in the Concordia women’s soccer program. After upsetting the twentieth-ranked Hastings Broncos in the GPAC tournament, the Bulldogs lost 4-0 to No. 9 Benedictine College (Kansas) in the opening round of the national tournament. Despite the loss, the team’s first-ever appearance in the national tournament only fueled the team’s fire.
“Every season our goal is to win the conference championship and earn a bid to the national tournament,” coach Greg Henson said. “This season is no different but our players have now experienced what it takes to achieve those goals. They now understand the importance of the mid-season grind and that every game is truly meaningful.”
The 3-1 team lost key players from last year’s team after graduation in May, but according to Henson, this season’s roster consists of a strong freshman class and eight returning key players including sophomores Jeannelle Condame, Esther Soenksen and Jessica Skerston, juniors Jordan McCoy and Chrissy Lind and seniors Madison Hawkins and Katrina Muther.
This season the team is ranked No. 21 in the NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the highest ranking the team has ever received. In the GPAC, the women earned the number two spot.
“I’m excited to see what we are able to do as a team this year because we have potential to go far,” said senior captain Hawkins.
In their season opener on Aug. 26, the Bulldogs beat Bethel College 5-0. Soenksen scored two goals, and McCoy, Skerston and freshman Maria Deeter each scored one goal. The defense stood strong and goalkeeper Lind only had to make two saves the entire game.
On Aug. 29 the Bulldogs defeated the No. 16 Bellevue Bruins 2-1. The game marked the first time that two ranked women’s soccer teams battled inside Bulldog Stadium and the second time that the Bulldogs have defeated the Bruins. Soenksen and freshman Kaylee Brown contributed one goal each.
The team’s first loss this season came against one of the biggest threats on the Bulldogs’ schedule, No. 6 Benedictine.
Concordia lost 4-0 to Benedictine on Sept. 12. Benedictine scored two goals each half with a total of twenty-one shots. The Bulldogs had no goals off six shots.
Despite the loss, the Bulldogs are hungry for victory and determined to return to the national stage.