INDIANAPOLIS – In an evenly played Crossroads League match, an equalizer from freshman Steven Fiema with five minutes left in regulation allowed Grace’s men’s soccer team to grab a 1-1 tie with Marian on Tuesday night.
Although the Lancers (7-2-2; 2-0-2 CL) maintained their unbeaten streak in the league with the draw, Grace nearly won the game in overtime.
Late in the first overtime period, Grace earned a penalty kick when the Knights (8-4-1; 2-1-1 CL) tackled Grace in the penalty box. Gift Sibukome’s penalty kick attempt was saved by Marian, however, and Sibukome’s rebound shot attempt sailed high.
With five minutes remaining in the second overtime, Fiema nearly scored his second goal of the match. His free kick attempt from 30 yards forced Marian’s goalkeeper to make a diving save to his left.
Overall, Grace and Marian were nearly level in shots as the Lancers held a slight 20-17 advantage in shot attempts. The Lancers did have a strong advantage as they took 11 corner kicks compared to two for the Knights.
“We had a rough time creating good offensive chances tonight,” said Grace head coach Matt Hotchkin. “Our possession was good in the back and in the midfield, but we struggled to adjust to the speed of the turf. We failed to convert on our 11 corner kicks, which doesn’t sit well with me.”
Grace had dangerous possession in the opening half, resulting in a 7-0 advantage in corner kicks for the first 45 minutes. But the Lancers were unable to capitalize and entered halftime in a scoreless draw.
Ten minutes into the second half, Shane Barthuly served a ball from the right endline into an open Nikola Blazic, whose shot was blasted wide of the goal from 10 yards.
Marian stepped up its attack midway into the second half and produced the game’s first goal at the 61:41 mark from Steven Roberts.
Fiema found the equalizer late in the first half when he broke free from Marian’s defense to find himself alone with the Knights’ goalkeeper. Fiema calmed slotted his shot inside the left goalpost in the 86th minute.
Fiema led all players with seven shots on his birthday, and Barthuly and Sibukome tallied five attempts apiece. Collin Cone made three saves and surrendered one goal in 110 minutes.
“Anybody wants to leave a league game with a win, but we will have to take a tie and move on,” Hotchkin continued. “We knew Marian was a solid team, and they proved to be that tonight.”
The Lancers will return to Miller Field on Saturday for a match with Bethel College. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.