Lancers pull off miracle comeback to win NCCAA region

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – With five minutes remaining in Saturday’s match, Grace’s men’s soccer team trailed Lancaster Bible 2-1 in the NCCAA regional championship.

Five thrilling minutes and two clutch goals later, the Lancers pulled out a 3-2 victory at 1st Source Bank Field.

The win gives the Lancers (13-3-4) an automatic bid to the NCCAA National Championships, starting Nov. 26 in Kissimmee, Fla.

Nikola Djordjevic was the hero of the day. He added to his penchant for game-winning moments over his career, scoring Grace’s first and last goals.

Saturday’s match was bitterly cold, with temperatures in the low-20s and winds carrying in cold air throughout the afternoon.

Grace was the aggressor early, keeping pressure on the Chargers’ backline. Josiah Osborn had an early cross from the endline that almost went in, glancing off the crossbar.

Seven minutes into the game, Breno Oliveira had a free kick. His pass fell to the feet of Ivan Santagiuliana, whose shot in front of the goal went high.

Lancaster struck first against the run of play. Grace made a misplay defensively, and the Chargers scored on a lofted shot into an empty net.

The Lancers found an equalizer not long after LBC’s goal. Oliveira lifted a pass toward the center of the penalty box, and Nikola Djordjevic alertly headed his shot above the goalkeeper’s reach and into the back of the net.

Grace had more chances to take the lead but failed to capitalize. Santagiuliana had another shot that misfired, and a late header from Colin Cape went wide.

The teams entered halftime tied 1-1. Grace held an 11-5 advantage in shots.

In the second half, Grace’s possession and attack put near-constant pressure on LBC. Ulisses Miranda, Boerema and Oliveira all had shots that were denied. Grace even had a shot that was cleared off the goal line by a Charger defender.

But despite Grace’s pressure, LBC took its second lead of the match with 20 minutes to play. The Chargers capitalized on another defensive error, quickly advancing into the penalty box and were fouled. LBC converted the ensuing penalty kick to go ahead 2-1.

Grace found its second equalizer of the match in the 86th minute. Boerema made a darting, weaving run from the left side of the field, and he blasted in his shot to the far post to make the score 2-2.

The Lancers’ attack seemed to wear down the Chargers, and the game winner came in the final minute.

Joshua Coupar tried a low, hard shot that was saved, but the rebound went to the far post. Djordjevic took care of the rest, tucking in the loose ball to send Grace’s bench into celebration.

For the match Grace outshot LBC 25-10, including a 14-5 edge after halftime.

Oliveira had a game-high seven shots, Cape had five shots, and Boerema and Djordjevic shot four times.