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Lancers jump into first place with road win

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – A first-half red card was not enough to stop Grace’s men’s soccer team on Saturday.

The Lancers continued their tear through the Crossroads League, beating St. Francis 2-1 on the road. The win moves Grace into first place in the league standings, leapfrogging Spring Arbor after SAU was defeated on Saturday.

“I thought we started the game really well, and then we gave up a goal on a breakdown on our part. Getting the red card shortly after caused us to lose our composure until halftime,” said Grace head coach Matt Hotchkin. “The second half was more balanced, but we created a lot of good chances even though we were a man down.”

The Lancers (7-2-4, 4-0-1 CL) started the match well, getting on the scoreboard first. Damon Binkley tried a shot that was denied in the 11th minute, and Breno Oliveira pounced on the rebound to score.

The Cougars (4-10, 1-4 CL) were swift in response, scoring the equalizer less than six minutes later.

The match took a dynamic turn in the 35th minute when Grace’s Colin Cape was issued a red card, and the Lancers were forced to play 11-versus-10 for the final 55 minutes of regulation.

Grace survived to halftime, content with the 1-1 scoreline at the break.

Grace, despite playing a man down, refused to play defensive. The Lancers were only outshot 5-4 in the second half and scored the only goal after halftime.

At the 71:00 mark, Grace broke through for the game winner. Cody Boerema dribbled through multiple players and deftly back-heeled a pass to Binkley while on the run. Binkley took care of the rest, burying his shot into the back of the net.

The second half was physical. Nineteen fouls were called after halftime along with six yellow cards — four against the Cougars.

But Grace held firm until the final whistle to pick up the critical road victory. Kurt Hamlin recorded seven saves for the victory in goal.

Boerema recorded three shots, all on goal, and Oliveira and Binkley each shot twice.

“USF was dangerous on the balls that they played into the box, and we are thankful for a victory tonight,” Hotchkin said. “Scoring with a man down is a good result. We can learn from tonight and improve from this. It’s one game at a time for us.”

The Lancers continue league play on Wednesday, traveling to Huntington for a 4 p.m. contest.