Grace bows out of NAIA Nationals
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Grace’s men’ s soccer team ended its season in the NAIA National Championships Opening Round on Wednesday.
The Lancers lost 1-0 against No. 16 Northwestern Ohio in a hard-fought contest. Grace had offensive chances throughout, including in the final minute, but the Racers held off the Lancers’ upset bid.
The match was the first game of the NAIA Opening Round. Grace’s Opening Round pod was held at Columbia College (Mo.).
Grace reached its third-ever NAIA tournament this year, making history for an accomplished, battle-tested squad.
Shot accuracy was a problem for Grace throughout; the Lancers (11-8-2) only had one of their nine attempts on target, helping the Racers (11-3) secure the shutout.
Grace was the most dangerous on set pieces in the match.
Midway into the half, Grace was fouled in the center of the field just above the penalty box. Ze Maria Goncalves tried the 19-yard free kick, but his effort was blocked.
Thirty minutes into the match, Grace had a strong chance. Goncalves and Felipe Gruber combined on a quick give-and-go. After a few quick passes, TJ White lobbed a leading pass into the box toward Jordan Jayapuram, and Jayapuram’s header beat the goalkeeper but was wide of the net.
With less than five minutes to play in the opening half, a corner kick found its way through the penalty box. Ulisses Miranda tried a one-time shot at the far post but whizzed his open shot wide of the net.
Grace had one more deep free kick before halftime but was unable to find the back of the net.
The match entered halftime scoreless. The Racers had a slight 7-5 edge in shots. The game also had 18 fouls called, including a yellow card late in the half against UNOH.
Frederik Christmann and Goncalves tried shots early in the half for Grace, and Joe Bowles also made a stout save during early action.
Soon afterwards, the match settled into a possession battle for the next 15 minutes.
UNOH struck a deadly blow, however, with 22 minutes remaining in the match. The Racers attacked quickly and directly down the middle of the field, beating a defender and squeezing a goal past Bowles to claim a 1-0 lead.
The game naturally picked up intensity down the stretch with Grace pressing for an equalizer.
With eight minutes on the clock, Jayapuram fell down under pressure in the box, but Grace’s appeal for a penalty kick was denied.
The Lancers had one more clear chance with less than a minute to play. Grace earned a free kick, and Jonny Mora sent a curling cross into the penalty box. Goncalves rose above his defender, but his redirected header went above the crossbar.
Grace had a final cross into the box in the final 10 seconds, but the Racers did not allow an attempt on goal and held on for the 1-0 win.
Bowles made seven saves in the 90-minute performance as Grace’s goalkeeper. Goncalves tried five shots to lead all players.