Both McPherson College soccer teams fell on Wednesday night by identical 3-2 scores, but to two different teams in two different locales. The Bulldog women were upended on the road by crosstown rival Central Christian College while the men lost a heartbreaker in overtime at home against the Concordia University Bulldogs.
The Bulldog women hadn't scored a goal since their opening game of the season nearly two weeks ago, so it was good to see the ball hit the back of the net a couple of times against the Tigers on Wednesday. The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute of the game, but the Bulldogs responded with the equalizer 11 minutes later on a goal by Ashley Esquivel, assisted by Jordan Bruner. Esquivel's goal was her first collegiate goal.
The game went into the halftime intermission knotted at one. In the 65th minute of action, the Bulldogs broke the tie. This time it was Bruner, getting her first goal as a Bulldog, in an assist by Dina Der Vartanian. The Bulldogs held the 2-1 lead for the next 15 minutes, the Tigers kept up the pressure, and finally broke through to tie the game at two in the 81st minute.
On the Tigers' second goal, one of the Mac ladies suffered a serious injury. EMS was called and she was taken to the hospital for tests. After a delay of nearly 30 minutes while the Bulldog Athletic Trainer and EMS worked on her, play resumed. With thoughts certainly directed toward their injured teammate, the Bulldogs did their best to rally around her and finish the game. Unfortunately, with just five minutes remaining in regulation, the Tigers retook the lead, this time for good, and held on for the victory.
The Bulldogs had the statistical advantage in most of the categories. They outshot the Tigers 16 to 9, and put 10 shots on frame to just five for the Tigers. The Bulldogs also held the advantage in cornerkicks won, 5-1. Christie Silber was in net for the Bulldogs, going all 90 minutes and recording three saves.
"I am proud of the way this team continues to play," Bulldog head coach Mark Olson said. "It looks like things are coming together as we were able to put the ball in the back of the net on two occasions" He praised the play of Esquivel and Bruner saying, "I'm happy for both Ashley and Jordan who scored their first goals for the Bulldogs. Ashley Esquivel's goal was her first collegiate goal. She almost had a second and third tonight as she was very dangerous going to goal."
We had a game plan and the players followed It and did everything we asked them to do. Hannah McKay had also played an outstanding game before being injured with a few minutes left in the game. Our record has no reflection on the ability of this team and we will be ready for conference play in a few weeks."
Next up for the Bulldogs is a weekend matchup on Sunday against the Hastings College Broncos, one of the toughest teams in the GPAC this season. Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m.
The men's game was a thriller and the Bulldogs knew coming in that Concordia was a formidable side. They entered the game with a perfect 3-0 record with several quality wins. The Bulldogs looked good early on, dominating the time of possession through the midway point of the opening half. In the 26th minute, Concordia took advantage of a mistake by the back line of the Bulldogs. A Concordia attacker stole a ball went to the end line and then played a diagonal ball to the top of the 18 where a teammate slotted on upper 90.
That was the only goal of the first 45 minutes of action. A half an hour into the second half, MC finally got on the board. Michael Almodovar threw the ball in to Justus Koehler. Koehler collected, turned to his left, hit a ball that appeared to be sailing well over the crossbar, but it had so much topspin, it dipped under the bar an over the outstretched hand of the Concordia keeper.
The lead was short lived, and eight minutes later, Concordia retook the lead, capitalizing on a Bulldog turnover in the midfield. With time running out, the McPherson lads responded with another concerted effort at goal. Evariste Abeli collected a ball with his back to goal. He spun to his left, and beat his man with his quickness. With a step on the defender, he forced another defender to pick him up. When the Concordia defender chose to stop Abeli from shooting, Abeli chose to play a square ball across the top of the 18. Running on to the ball was Koehler again. He hit a "onetime" ball with his right foot that nearly left a vapor trail as it scorched the back of the net.
Moments later, the clock hit 90, and the 2-2 tie sent the teams to a "golden goal" overtime session. Just a little over two minutes into the first overtime period, Concordia got in deep in the McPherson defensive third. There was a questionable no call in the corner that allowed the Concordia attacker to get free on the endline. He took a dribble or two and then played a ball diagonally to a teammate who was wide open just outside of the 18 yard box. He buried the ball with his left foot and the game ended 3-2.
Thomas Klewegt was between the pipes for the Bulldogs. He played all 92:11, giving up three goals and recording one save. McPherson lost the shooting battle 8-7, but held the advantage in cornerkicks won, 3-1.
"We knew this would be a battle tonight and it certainly was that," Bulldog skipper Doug Quint said. "We had a lot of players step up and play some quality minutes, and I loved the character and fight our team showed tonight to equalize in the 89th minute to send it to extra time. We just kept fighting and were determined to find a way through their back-line." "What a strike that was to tie it up", exclaimed Quint! Justus absolutely hit a banger.
"Certainly felt we let one get away from us and were unlucky in the end. I felt that was not only a foul on the end-line but the ball was also out of bounds before the cross was made. Either way we move on and learn from it. I told the boys afterwards how proud I was of them and how we took another step forward tonight."
The Bulldogs will get another tough test on Saturday when they host the Midland University Warriors for a 1:30 matchup at the Kennel.