A year ago, Concordia came within one half of one game — maybe even one quarter — of a perfect season and an MCLA Division II national championship. The Eagles (20-1) led Dayton 6-3 at halftime of the title game but surrendered seven third-quarter goals and ultimately lost 12-11.
Rather than dwell on what could have been, though, head coach Ryan Brent is looking forward. The Eagles enter 2016 ranked No. 2 in the Under Armour MCLA coaches poll — behind Dayton, of course — and have high hopes for another run to the national tournament in May.
Coach Brent shared his thoughts on the 2016 Eagles:
Expectations are high this season, as they always are at Concordia. We graduated some all-time great players after last season’s run, and we are very excited to see what this new group brings to the table. Our guys are extremely focused on their ultimate goal, and it shows in the way we prepare and execute in practices. Looking forward to a fun season.
Concordia Players to Watch
- Dillon Bernad, senior, attack (Great Oak HS): Dillon had a tremendous 2015 campaign where he proved his mettle by earning all-conference and third-team All-American honors, tallying 55 goals and 32 assists. As a captain this year, Dillon looks to lead a young, talented CUI offense.
- Chase Matranga, senior, midfield (Dana Hills HS): Matranga led the Eagles’ midfield last year with a balanced 33g, 29a and third-team All-American honors. Chase returns, along with the entire first line midfield, as a captain and leader.
- Jake Pense, sophomore, defender (De La Salle HS): Jake was forced into action last season as a freshman and had an incredible season, earning All-SLC freshman honors by routinely shutting down other teams’ attacks. The sophomore will be difficult to ignore this season, as he has improved tremendously and will go toe to toe with some of the country’s top scorers week in and week out.
- Ronnie Fernando, senior, goalie (El Toro HS): Fernando backed up All-American keeper Cody Cook last season and posted a ridiculous 91.7 save percentage in limited action. Although it is unlikely he will keep that pace up, Ronnie has impressed thus far in preseason action.
2016 will be a successful season if …
… we continue to take steps forward as a program on and off the field. We achieved the most success in our program’s young history last year, and our expectations are that we will continue that legacy and build upon it.
— Ryan Brent, Concordia head coach
All but five players listed on the 26-man Concordia roster come from Southern California high schools, including 16 from Orange County.