Grace nets three against Bluefield at NCCAA Nationals

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Needing a win to potentially keep its season alive, Grace’s men’s soccer team delivered with a 3-1 victory against Bluefield on Tuesday.

The Lancers (13-6-4) will now await their fate at the 2017 NCCAA National Championships. Grace has a chance to advance to Friday’s national semifinals but will need help from the remaining pool play matches.

“I’m so proud of our guys. We felt like we failed in several ways yesterday, and today they took care of the game from the start,” said Grace head coach Matt Hotchkin. “The guys showed great character, bouncing back from a tough loss yesterday. I’m extremely proud of them.”

All four goals in the match were scored in the second half, including three different goalscorers by Grace.

The teams started the match patiently as each side attempted to build a possession attack. The first shot of the game happened in the 15th minute when Bluefield’s attempt went wide.

Midway into the half, Grace seemed to take control. The Lancers’ first chance was nearly a goal.

A well-built attack saw Grace shift the ball around the penalty box. The final pass found Cody Boerema whose curling shot missed wide of the near post.

Minutes later, another attack resulted in a dangerous cross from Joshua Coupar, but no Lancer was there to finish the cross.

The Rams (16-6) were held to one shot for the first 35 minutes before finally mustering another shot. The match entered halftime scoreless with both teams eyeing a victory.

It did not take long for Grace to get on the scoreboard. Five minutes into the second half, Damon Binkley played a pass to a slashing Boerema. Boerema’s first touch lofted the ball in the air which fooled Bluefield’s goalkeeper and defender, and Boerema was there to punch the ball past the goal line at the 50:07 mark.

Eight minutes later, Grace doubled its lead. Marcelo Talamas led an attack to the top of the penalty box. He passed to Ulisses Miranda on the right side who faked outside and hit a perfect, curling shot into the goal from distance in the 59th minute.

The Rams absorbed pressure for most of the second half as Grace held a 12-6 shot advantage after halftime. The Lancers produced a third goal late to secure the victory.

Boerema broke free on the edge of the box and blasted a shot which clanged off both goalposts. Damon Binkley was there for the rebound in the 84th minute to give the Lancers a 3-0 lead.

Bluefield scored a desperation goal in the final seconds of the match for the final 3-1 scoreline.

Kurt Hamlin made five saves and was defended well by the backline of Coupar, Zeb Johansson, Josiah Osborn and Gabriel Osti.

“We created movement which was really important, and the guys played with more urgency,” Hotchkin said. “Josiah Osborn did a fantastic job leading our back line today, and our forwards were dangerous by creating several chances that didn’t show up on the scoreboard.”

Boerema and Miranda each had three shots, and Talamas, Breno Oliveira and Binkley shot twice.

The Lancers will likely need to wait until Wednesday night to find out its fate. Grace can still advance as the top overall runner-up in pool play.