The No. 3 Concordia Eagles entered the second round of the NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship in Montgomery, Ala. on Monday, November 26, focused and ready to prove their worth. The Eagles dominated No. 14 Ashford University (Iowa) from start to finish in a 4-0 win.
All 16 Opening Round winners advanced to play in the 54th annual National Championship final site presented by Carrabba's Italian Grill. The event will take place from Nov. 26 - Dec. 1 at the Emory Folmar Soccer Complex in Montgomery, Ala.
In the first ever meeting of the schools, Concordia got on the board at 12:28 when Eagles' goal-leader Christian Ramirez slipped a through ball to William Prado, who scored his 11th of the year, behind only Ramirez's 22.
"We tried to set the tone in this one and it worked to our favor," Christian Ramirez said.
Following the goal, Ashford enjoyed their best stretch, as they spent the next 20 minutes on the attack. They registered one shot, by Lucas Almeida at 20:40, which was blocked by Concordia defender Max McCrink. The ball spent the majority of the time at the Saints side of the field and they had three corner kicks.
Concordia made them miss that opportunity though, and made it 2-0 at 37:14 when Edgar Orozco ran a give-and-go with Ramirez. It was Orozco's eighth goal of the year and Ramirez's sixth assist, and second of the day.
Neither team registered a shot in the remaining first half time and the teams went to the break with Concordia up 2-0.
"Our bench was fantastic today and it feels good knowing anyone can come in and contribute," William Prado said.
Neil Anaya missed an early shot for Concordia in the second stanza, but Adrian Padilla made good at 46:51 when he beat multiple defenders up the middle to score an unassisted goal. The teams spent the next 30 minutes in a standoff, which was fine by the Eagles. Neither team recorded a shot, until at 78:44 Julio Suarez found himself with an open shot on a nice combo play from Jordan Long and Eddie Gutierrez. It was Suarez's first goal of the year and third of his career.
The Concordia bench spent most of the second half on the field and more than held their own. Julio Trejo and William Whiddon split time on goal, with Trejo improving to 18-1-1 on the year. Whiddon had one save. Concordia outshot the Saints 17-5 and 6-1 in shots on goal. Ashford goalkeeper Patrick Kinsella took the loss, as the Saints season came to an end. Concordia notched their 13th shutout of the year.
"We changed our mentality and want to be the team that pushes the tempo," Concordia head coach Chris Gould said. "We started really sharp today. I am proud of their mentality and the focus they showed."
Concordia tied the school record in wins at 19-2-1, while Ashford finished their season at 13-4-4. The Eagles tied the 2007 team in wins that finished runner-up at the National Tournament. It was Concordia's first win at the final site since 2007. Concordia improved to 5-3-1 all-time in the National Tournament.
Concordia will play the winner of No. 6 Columbia (MO) and No. 11 Mobile (AL) on Wednesday, November 28 at 11:30 am in the NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship Quarterfinals.
NeuLion, the NAIA's official video-streaming company of 12 select NAIA national championship events, will be broadcasting all matches of the 2012 Men's Soccer National Championship final site in Montgomery, Ala. Single day packages can be purchased for $9.95, while an all-tournament pass is available for $29.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here.