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Eric Peterson, Published November 14 2012

Sweden recruits fit in with Cobbers women's soccer team

Moorhead - Dan Weiler traveled more than 4,000 miles last June for a recruiting visit, which was the longest trip he had ever made.

The Concordia head women’s soccer coach made it to Malmo, Sweden, to watch Emma Ekdahl and Josefin Karlsson play.

“I was really nervous,” Ekdahl said. “You wanted to make a good impression. I think we did. He still wanted us.”

Ekdahl and Karlsson both joined the program this fall. No. 14-ranked Concordia (17-3-2) is set to play No. 3 Washington (Mo.) University at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the NCAA Division III tournament round of 16.

Ekdahl, 19, will start in the midfield for Concordia on Friday, while Karlsson, 21, is a reserve.

“I love it,” Karlsson said. “I love the team and I love to play soccer here. So far everything has been really good.”

Ekdahl and Karlsson both grew up near Malmo, the third largest city in Sweden. Weiler first learned about the two players via a recruiting service last March.

Weiler – who said he doesn’t use recruiting services that often – ended up contacting both Ekdahl and Karlsson.

“Both of them were quick to email me back, so I knew their interest level was high,” Weiler said.

Weiler got the chance see Ekdahl and Karlsson play, because he was already set to travel to Copenhagen, Denmark, to do work for his master’s degree near the end of last May and into early June.

Malmo is about a 30-minute train ride from Copenhagen, Weiler said, and Ekdahl and Karlsson happened to be playing during the time Weiler was in Denmark.

“I watched them play and was impressed with both of them,” Weiler said.

Weiler said both players committed before he saw them play in person. Weiler had seen Karlsson play on videotape. He had never seen Ekdahl play before his trip to Sweden.

“He showed us that he really did want us,” said Karlsson. “That made my choice easier.”

Karlsson and Ekdahl said being away from their families has been tough. They especially missed their home-cooked meals. Ekdahl said she uses Skype to chat with her family at least once a week.

The fact that they knew each other has helped. Ekdahl said the idea to play college soccer in America was initially Karlsson’s idea.

“We’ve know each other for like seven years,” said Ekdahl, who ranks fifth on the Cobbers with eight points. “She talked about it first, but then I thought it sounds like a good idea, so I wanted to do it, too.”

When they arrived in Fargo last August, Concordia seniors Sarah Rounds and Haley Haddock came to the airport to pick up the Swedish players.

Karlsson and Ekdahl both agree that being on an athletic team has made their transition as students smoother, too.

“It’s much easier to get to know people,” said Karlsson. “I’ve seen a lot of other international students who are hanging out with the other international students.”

In the future, Weiler said he would like to make an annual recruiting trip to Scandinavian countries.

“It’s been an adventure,” Ekdahl said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I really like it.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com