November 10, 2012

Playoff Pedigree Propels Cobbers Into Second Round

MOORHEAD, Minn. (11/10/12)—Concordia used their experience and playoff pedigree to overcome a 1-0 halftime deficit and beat Lake Forest 2-1 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cobbers now advance to the second round where they will face California Lutheran on Sunday, Oct. 11 at 5 p.m.

Concordia has now advanced to the second round of the NCAA playoffs in four straight seasons. The Cobbers are now 16-3-2. It is the third time in the history of the program they have reached the 16-win mark. Lake Forest finishes their season with a 14-5-2 mark.  

"We talked about having more experience before the game and then at halftime," commented head coach Dan Weiler. "These players have been through a lot during this season, and in previous tournaments, that they are able to draw on that when the game gets difficult."

Concordia controlled the play in both halves despite a prevailing wind from end-to-end that gusted up to 25 mph. The Cobbers wound up outshooting the Foresters 30-7 in overall shots and 14-5 in shots on goal.

Despite having possession in their offensive half for most of the first frame, Concordia found themselves down by a goal at halftime after a foul call gave Lake Forest a free kick from 22 yards out. Becky Esrock hammered a low shot that curled around the outside of wall and just inside the near post. The goal at 43:55 put CC into a 1-0 hole.

The Cobbers made one key adjustment at the half. "We wanted to put more pressure on their farthest central defender," said Weiler. "We knew that we were going to get chances and just wanted to put extra pressure on the middle of their backline."

That pressure came in the form of sophomore Elizabeth Robinson who found her way to the top of the CC offense. The move paid off less than 15 minutes into the final half when Robinson took possession of the ball 35 yards out from goal, dribbled past a pair of Lake Forest defenders and then hammered a looping shot that went over the Forester goalie and just under the crossbar.

"I knew that I didn't have any help with me so I just wanted to beat the defenders to get a shot," recalled Robinson. "I saw a third defender coming at me and just wanted to get the shot off as fast as possible. It felt good coming off my foot and I am just glad it went into the net."

Robinson's fifth goal of the year at 58:55 sparked the Cobber offense and renewed the team's belief that they could win.

Concordia continued to press the attack and finally got on top when Emma Ekdahl beat a defender on the end line 12 yards out from goal on the left wing and then pounded a pass across the face of goal where wing Gina Weiss ran onto the ball and bounced it into the goal. Sarah Rounds was also credited with an assist on the game-winning goal at 81:38.

"It was a great play from Emma (Ekdahl) to beat her defender and get in a position to cross the ball," said Weiler. "We have been working on the timing of those runs for several weeks and it is nice to see the practice pay off."

The Cobbers then kept the ball in the middle of the field to finish off the final eight minutes of play and come away with the win.

Concordia goalie made four saves to earn her 16th win of the year. Lake Forest keeper Bri Schleibinger stopped 12 shots in the losing effort.

The Cobbers will face California Lutheran in the second round on Sunday at 5 p.m. at Wartburg with the winner advancing to the Sweet 16. CC has made the Sweet 16 of the national tournament in two of the past three seasons.