Blake Burns scored twice for the eighth-placed Lancers (6-0-3, 1-0-0 Crossroads League) propelling them to their first Crossroads League victory of the season.
Three-time NAIA Defensive Player of the Week Matteo Conci picked up his fifth clean sheet of the season in the win.
Right off the bat, Grace looked set to avoid emotional disappointment after recently earning a top-10 finish at the NAIA.
The Lancers controlled the ball for almost all of the first ten minutes of action, which culminated in a pair of chances from Felipe Gruber.
Marian (3-5-1, 0-1-0 CL) attempted to counter Grace’s powerful offense with a defensive style of football that limited the offensive opportunities the Knights could generate.
Martim Sequeira almost broke the deadlock with a shot from close range that went through the goalkeeper’s legs but was stopped just short of the goal line.
The Lancers’ aggressive offense earned them a pair of free kicks just outside the box midway through the first half. Marian managed to stave off both chances as the game remained tied.
Grace’s goal would come with just 2:43 left in the period and was a show-stopping tactical ball move as Grace took the lead.
Sequeira played a ball into the box to Daniel Santos Rosa who immediately sent a pass to Burns whom he buried for his first of the contest.
The final 2:43 would pass without incident as Grace carried a 1-0 lead into the break
The Lancers fired past the Knights 8-0 in the first half and held a 4-1 corner advantage.
It wouldn’t be until 10 minutes into the second that Grace doubled her lead.
Flavio Cruz sent a long pass downfield to Burns. Burns put the ball on his feet just long enough to put in a curling shot on goal that beat the keeper to push Grace ahead 2-0.
After the second base, the Lancers didn’t take their foot off the pedal as they continued to push for their third base.
On their next offensive possession, Sequeira narrowly missed his second bicycle goal in as many games as he sounded his acrobatic kick on the post.
Sequeira was again involved in the offensive attack as he crossed a ball towards Santos Rosa whose shot drifted high from the net.
Conci’s only save of the game came midway through the second half as he used a full extension save to preserve his clean sheet performance.
Grace continued to control the pace of play as the Lancers held on for the convincing 2-0 win.
Conci made a save in the win and Sequeira led all players with four shots. For the game, the Lancers shot the Knights 15-3.
Grace’s next game is in Fort Wayne, as the Lancers take on St. Francis (7-2-1, 0-1-0 CL) at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Lancers beat HU for league tournament title
WINONA LAKE — The perfect season for the Grace men’s tennis team continued on Saturday.
The Lancers shut out Huntington 4-0 in the 2022 Crossroads League Tournament Championship Game. Grace (13-0) remains undefeated this season following Saturday’s win over Don Cramer’s tennis courts.
Grace won her first conference tournament crown in program history, making the program’s fifth appearance in the tournament championship game.
As a result, the Lancers will win the automatic bid for the 2023 NAIA National Championships in May in Mobile, Ala. This is the third time Grace has earned a team berth for the NAIA National Championships (1988, 2021).
The double point narrowed to a narrow margin. The Foresters won first in doubles, but Ramiro Candia and Nicolas Doria went down 6-0 in third.
The point was decided at the No. 2 double with Javier Gallego and Pablo Gregori winning 6-4 to give the Lancers a quick boost. It wouldn’t be the last time Gallego converted a key point.
Doria continued her impressive day with another rout to sixth in singles, winning 6-0, 6-3. Gregori also won a fiery No. 4 singles match 6-1, 6-3, putting Grace one point away from the title.
Gallego delivered the winning moment to No. 2 in singles. After beating their opponent (6-3, 6-3), the Lancers spilled onto the Gallego field, starting a series of championship celebrations between the team.
Next week, Grace will send her team to the ITA Regional Tournament, starting Wednesday in Marion.
Grace leads SAU on the road
SPRING ARBOR, Mich. — Grace’s volleyball team earned a key road victory over a Crossroads League opponent on Saturday.
The Lady Lancers used balanced offensive production to beat Spring Arbor 3-0.
The three sets were not decided until the end; Grace showed her determination to win all three hard-fought sets.
The Cougars (10-8, 1-6 CL) started the game well, quickly taking a 7-3 lead in the first set.
Grace kept the score close and used four straight points to take a 22-20 lead. But the Cougars responded with four runs, serving for the set with a 24-22 lead.
But the Lady Lancers (7-11, CL 2-5) dodged two set points, using decisive attacks from Cassadi Colbert and Sahara Bee to fight back. Grace used that momentum to claim the first set in extra points, 28-26; Livia Tate earned the last kill after a loose ball.
Grace scored the first two points of the second set. The Lady Lancers held on to a small but steady lead, standing late for a four-point victory.
The third set saw the score draw 10 times, especially early on. A pair of wins from Jadyn Ross midway through the set propelled Grace into the lead at 18-14.
The Cougars tried to rally in the dying moments with three straight runs, but a final kill from Ross gave Grace a 25-21 win to secure the sweep.
Colbert led all players with 12 kills on .222 percentage, and Bee also hit double digits with 10 kills, 5 digs, and 2 assists.
Ross finished with nine kills, Katie Swanson had 4 kills, 1 solo block and 3 block assists, and Alisha Leffring had five kills.
Grace’s defense was bolstered by 13 digs from Riley Owens, 11 digs from Grace Erwin and 10 digs from McKenzie Stakely. Owens also dished out 32 assists as a passer.
The Lady Lancers are on the road for a trio of games next week, including Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Wednesday, Huntington on Friday and Goshen on Saturday.