Grace College’s men’s soccer team moved one step closer in its pursuit of a national championship on Wednesday.
The Lancers beat Ottawa (Ariz.) 2-0 to secure a spot in the NCCAA semifinals; Grace won the group after Wednesday’s victory and now sit just two games from a championship.
Grace will face a familiar foe on Friday in the semifinals. The Lancers will square off with Bethel at 7:30 p.m. for a right to play in the national championship. Grace beat Bethel 2-0 on Oct. 3 in the regular season in Winona Lake.
Marcelo Talamas and Damon Binkley netted for the Lancers (15-3-4). Ulisses Miranda was also a key figure, recording an assist on each goal.
Grace dominated the match, owning a 20-3 advantage in shots. The Spirit (11-7-1) did not take a shot attempt for the final 47 minutes of the match.
It did not take the Lancers long to get on the scoreboard. Breno Oliveira made a perfectly weighted pass into the box to Cody Boerema, forcing Ottawa’s goalkeeper to charge out. The ball fell to Miranda who alertly sidestepped the goalkeeper and passed to an open Talamas for a simple finish at the 13:19 mark.
Grace continued to assault Ottawa’s goal, taking 14 shots with four corner kicks in the first 45 minutes.
The pressure paid off as the Spirit picked up a red card late in the first half. Ottawa was forced to play with 10 men for the last 54:28 of regulation.
Ottawa managed to remain only a goal behind for most of the second half. But the Lancers calmly dictated the play with its man-advantage.
Grace eventually found its insurance goal in the 84th minute. Oliveira started play with a free kick pass at the top of the penalty box. Miranda tried a hard, low shot to the near post, and Binkley alertly redirected it into the back of the net.
Ottawa had zero shot attempts or corner kicks in response throughout the second half, allowing Grace to secure its spot in the semifinals.
Kurt Hamlin did not need to make a save in 90 minutes for the shutout as Grace’s goalkeeper. – from grace.edu