Lancers down rival Bethel
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – In a battle at the top of the Crossroads League, Grace’s men’s soccer team came out triumphant with a 2-0 win over Bethel on Wednesday.
The Lancers (8-2-2, 2-0-1 CL) used goals from Togo Narusawa and Cody Boerema to blank the Pilots (8-3-1, 2-1 CL). The win moves Grace into sole position of second place in the league standings, less than a game out the league lead.
Grace seemed to have the upper hand on rival Bethel for much of the match at 1st Source Bank Field, collecting the better share of possession and chances. The Lancers outshot the Pilots 22-12, including a 10-3 advantage in corner kicks.
“Bethel is a difficult team to play against because they have a lot of weapons in their arsenal. I thought our guys did an excellent job defending their threats,” said Grace head coach Matt Hotchkin. “Having a two-goal cushion is a good position to be in, and the guys kept their composure for the second half. This is a solid win. Everyone in our conference is solid, so we’ve got about an hour to enjoy this before we focus on Saturday.”
Approximately 10 minutes into Wednesday’s match, Grace began to take control. During a 20-minute stretch in the first half, the Lancers outshot Bethel 9-1.
Grace’s pressure eventually produced a goal. Ulisses Miranda found space outside the penalty box and blasted a low shot; his attempt was parried away by Bethel’s goalkeeper, but Togo Narusawa alertly poked in the rebound in the 27th minute for a 1-0 lead.
In the final minutes of the half, Grace struck again. Cody Boerema received a pass at the midfield stripe and began a dizzying, weaving run at Bethel’s goal. He beat four defenders and uncorked a left-footed shot on the left side of the box, sneaking into the net to double Grace’s cushion.
Grace slowed down its attack in the second half after shooting 13 first-half attempts. The Lancers still shot nine times after halftime, including six on frame.
Bethel had better chances in the second half after being muted prior to halftime. But Grace’s defense was resolute to blank the Pilots.
Kurt Hamlin made three saves in 90 minutes for the shutout, and he was protected well by Gabriel Osti, Romain Chantrel, Ivan Santagiuliana and Josiah Osborn.
The match became fairly physical in the middle portions of the second half. Bethel accounted for 17 of the 26 fouls called on Wednesday.
Boerema led all players with six shots and three on goal, and Narusawa also had three shots on goal.
“The Grace Red Zone was such a huge help tonight and gave us a resounding home field advantage,” Hotchkin continued. “Thanks to everyone who organized and who showed up tonight to help us get the win!”
Saturday will be Grace’s Homecoming match at 1st Source Bank Field. Grace will host Taylor at 2:30 p.m. in the climax of the college’s Homecoming activities.