Grace College’s men’s soccer team put the Crossroads League on notice with an upset on Saturday evening.
The sixth-seeded Lancers upended No. 3 seed Mt. Vernon Nazarene 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the Crossroads League Tournament.
Grace will travel to Indiana Wesleyan on Wednesday for the tournament semifinals. The winner of the league tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NAIA National Championships.
Saturday’s first half was stuffed with back-and-forth action. The opening 45 minutes were at times chippy, at times calm, but rarely lacking drama.
Grace stunned the Cougars (5-4) early with two quick goals.
Seven minutes after that, Grace was awarded an indirect free kick a few yards above the penalty box. After a quick touch from Miranda, Ze Maria Goncalves confidently stepped up and laced the indirect free kick below the crossbar for a 2-0 lead.
MVNU struggled to deal with Grace’s possession before halftime. The Cougars seemed content to counterattack, which they did with success.
The Cougars cut Grace’s lead in half in the 16th minute, scoring off a loose ball in the box.
Goncalves and Miranda nearly combined for another goal. Miranda’s chipped shot topped the goalkeeper but was cleared away before it reached the goal line.
MVNU managed to tie the game in the 38th minute. Grace was whistled for a hand ball in the box, and the Cougars promptly scored the equalizer from the penalty spot.
In the final minutes of the frenetic half, Grace retook the lead. Miranda scored his second goal, cleaning up a saved shot from Tyler Brueckman.
When the dust had settled, five goals had been scored with Grace ahead 3-2. Those five goals were scored despite just nine shot attempts being registered (5-4, Grace).
Both teams had chances to change the game with a goal in the second half, but it seemed the game had already seen its share of goals.
The Lancers’ possession and movement were effective with Grace in the lead, but MVNU continued to look dangerous on the counter.
Midway into the second half, MVNU nearly found the equalizer. Goncalves tried a hard shot that was saved, and then the Cougars countered with lethal intent. MVNU thought it had an open net to score, but Korry Hamlin backtracked just in time to kick the ball off the goal line which preserved the 3-2 lead.
Joe Bowles also made a few strong saves in between the posts as Grace’s goalkeeper, allowing the Lancers to maintain the lead.
The Cougars were limited to two shots over the final 19 minutes of play, and Bowles saved the only shot that was on target. Bowles finished the game with three saves to pick up the win.
Grace held a 15-13 edge in shot attempts, whereas the Cougars had an 11-3 advantage in corner kicks. Eleven of Grace’s 15 shots were on goal.
Miranda was active throughout the evening, registering eight shots with six on goal. Goncalves had three shots with two on goal. – from gclancers.com