Lancers miss chances to upset No. 22 SAU
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – In a battle for first place, Grace’s men’s soccer came up short in a 3-1 defeat to No. 22 Spring Arbor on Saturday.
The Lancers (7-4-4, 4-2-1 Crossroads League) missed a shot to claim first in the league standings entering the final week of the regular season. Grace sits in third place after the loss.
The Cougars (13-3, 6-1 CL) scored a pair of second-half goals to ruin Grace’s upset bid. Grace was only outshot 14-12 in an evenly played match.
“I thought we played a decent game tonight, but it wasn’t good enough. Spring Arbor is a good team,” said Grace head coach Matt Hotchkin. “I thought we were better than them in several key areas. But tonight, what they do best won the day.”
Spring Arbor had the better of possession over the first portion of the first half. The Cougars controlled the ball and scored the opening goal off a corner kick in the fifth minute.
SAU nearly scored again minutes later, which seemed to spark life into the Lancers.
Grace began to play with urgency over the final 15 minutes of the half and held a consistent threat on the Cougars’ end of the field.
Marcelo Talamas made an immediate impression off the bench. He had a curling shot from the top of the box that beat SAU’s goalkeeper but clanged off the crossbar in the 30th minute. The rebound came back to Talamas, and his low shot forced a diving save.
Eight minutes later, Cody Boerema broke free and had a shot under pressure on a counterattack. His chipped effort evaded the goalkeeper but rolled just wide.
With five minutes left in the first half, Talamas was fouled inside the penalty box, awarding Grace a penalty kick. Breno Oliveira made good on the PK attempt to send the game into a 1-1 tie at halftime.
Both teams had eight shots in the first half, and Grace had four corner kicks.
The second half started evenly, but SAU capitalized on another set piece to score. The Cougars finished off a cross into the box at the 66:12 mark to take a 2-1 lead.
Grace did its best to battle back, but the Cougars limited the Lancers to two shots over the final 20 minutes.
Oliveira nearly scored for Grace again in the 79th minute. The junior juked a defender and rifled off a low drive that was saved.
SAU sealed the win in the waning moments. The Lancers failed to clear a corner kick, and a dangerous cross was headed in by a Grace defender for an own goal at the 87:01 mark.
For the game, Talamas’s four shots led the Lancers. Colin Cape, Boerema and Oliveira each tried two shots.
“We can learn from tonight, and I actually think this is one of those losses that gives us a hopeful outlook going forward,” Hotchkin. “It was a rough week for us, but we are sticking together and will improve because of the challenges we have faced. We plan to take things a game at a time.”
The Lancers will look to rebound on Wednesday, hosting Mt. Vernon Nazarene at 1st Source Bank Field for a 7 p.m. match.