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Home Sports Women’s soccer bests Jamestown, qualifies for playoffs

Photo description: Sophomore Kierstynn Garner defends the ball against a Jamestown player. 

Photo credit: Courtney Wright

Cohen Carpenter

Sower Staff


For the fifteenth straight year, the Concordia Bulldogs played themselves into the playoffs, and for the 2023 season, that meant hosting the Jamestown Jimmies in Seward for the quarterfinal round on Thursday night.

The Bulldogs bested Jamestown, winning by a score of 2-1 and punching their ticket to the semifinals.

With the 2023 regular season in the books, the Bulldogs made waves with their stellar performance on the pitch. Finishing second in the Great Plains Athletic Conference with a 12-3-3 record and 8-1-3 in conference play, 2023 marked the best Concordia regular season since 2017, where the Greg Henson-led squad finished 15-2-4 as conference champions.

The Bulldogs this season put the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics on notice with potent play from the forward position. Averaging 2.72 goals per game on a 22 percent shooting percentage, the stellar offense was headlined by the imposing performances of sophomores Savannah Andrews and Kierstynn Garner, who collectively scored 31 of the Bulldogs’ 49 goals on the season.

The Jimmies, on the other hand, did not fare as well this regular season. Finishing with a sub-.500 record overall, Jamestown squeaked into the playoffs with a 5-5-2 record in the GPAC. The highlight of the Jamestown squad this season has been their defense, as the Jimmies have allowed two goals or fewer in 12 of their 16 games this season, with four shut-outs to boot.

Thursday night marked the second meeting between the Bulldogs and Jimmies, as the two squads had previously squared off in an Oct. 7 regular season meeting in Jamestown, ND. That contest proved to be one of the more competitive conference matchups for the Bulldogs, as Concordia left North Dakota with a slim 1-0 victory, with Garner scoring the game’s only goal in the first half.

Thursday night, mirroring the first matchup, the first goal of the game came in the first half off the boot of a Bulldog — this time however, it was the Concordia midfield that left their mark first. With 35:38 left in the first frame, Concordia was hounding the Jamestown backline, applying constant pressure.

These attacks paid off, and the Jimmie defense gave way, allowing a lane for sophomore midfielder Elena Ruiz at the top of the goal box. With a clear picture of the goal ahead of her, Ruiz did not waste the chance. Firing a shot to the left on the diving keeper, nullifying her efforts, Ruiz put the Bulldogs up early with her fifth goal of the season.

The Concordia offense did not relent, and after a healthy back and forth, with both teams exchanging shots on goal, the Bulldogs struck again. With 9:40 left in the first half, the Bulldog frontline launched a barrage on Jimmie keeper Tea Pence — first with two shots off the boot of sophomore forward Sierra Springer, one wide left and the other saved by Pence.

Mere seconds later, sophomore defender Shelby Rugg threw her hat in the ring, launching a ball that was promptly deflected by the keeper. Seizing the opportunity, Savannah Andrews rushed to the now unaccompanied ball and rifled a shot past the recovering keeper — promptly putting the Bulldogs up two in the waning minutes of the half.

Coming out of the locker rooms for the second half, the Jimmie offense refused to remain dormant. With 43:40 left in the game, junior midfielder Sidney Mikes stepped back for a Jamestown corner kick, their second of the game up until that point.

A seemingly perfect touch of the boot of Mikes floated the ball above the heads of the awaiting Bulldogs and Jimmies below. Following a well-timed leap, junior forward Miarosa Gyllenswan, nudged the ball away from the outstretched arms of Bulldog keeper, senior Bradi Ore, bringing the game within one score.

This final goal was all that Jamestown was able to muster in the final half, as the Bulldogs held the Jimmies scoreless through the final 40 minutes. One reason for the impressive defensive showing was Ore in goal for Concordia.

Being one of the team’s more consistent players day in and day out, Ore continued her streak of reliability, garnering two saves on three shots on goal.

Other notable performances included Elena Ruiz and Savannah Andrews who scored both of Concordia’s goals on a combined five shots. Similarly, Garner shot the ball five times as well, all of which were on goal, yet she finished the match without a goal to her name.

On the night, the Bulldogs only allowed six shots, two of which came from the same play. What was the key to such a dominant defensive performance? Good offense, said head coach Nick Smith.

“When we concede the goal, there can be a tendency at times to really sit in and defend the rest of the game; we didn’t do that,” said Smith. “We continued to have attacks going forward and I felt we were really unlucky at times to not get the third goal here tonight.”

The Bulldogs, now advancing to the semifinals, will play next against the No. 3 seed Midland Warriors on Nov. 7th. The Warriors beat the College of Saint Mary 4-0 Thursday night and, as the lower-seeded team, will be coming to Seward Tuesday night at 7 p.m. for the second-round matchup.

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