The Lancers (8-4-2; 3-2-2 Crossroads League) scored three unanswered goals in the second half to run away from the Cougars (11-3-2; 4-1-2 CL). Grace currently sits in a tie for third place in the standings with only two CL matches to play.
“We played a composed game against a strong Spring Arbor team today. We really focused on personal accountability and good communication to help us stay together for the full 90 minutes,” said Grace head coach Matt Hotchkin. “I was proud of our guys today. We have been inconsistent lately, almost feeling like a boxer on the ropes, and our guys came prepared to compete today.”
Austin Altimus nearly scored in the first two minutes of action when his shot beat the goalkeeper but bounced off the crossbar.
Fiema collected his first goal of the game at the 14:14 mark. Gift Sibukome chipped a pass over the defense to Fiema, who rolled his shot to the side of the Cougars’ goalkeeper and into the net.
Both teams had chances to add to the scoring before halftime as Grace and Spring Arbor tallied nine shots apiece. The Cougars missed on a golden opportunity to score when a shot from David Edwardson nailed the crossbar from close range.
In the second half, rainy conditions contributed to a slick field and a number of goals.
The Cougars found an equalizer from Abdul Ibrahim in the 61st minute, but the Lancers were swift in response.
One minute after Spring Arbor’s goal, Trenton Porter picked out a streaking Fiema, who latched onto the deep pass and slotted his shot past the goalkeeper.
Grace’s third goal started when Kyle Hamlin cut into the middle of the field from the left side. Hamlin passed to Shane Barthuly on the right side of the penalty box, and Barthuly fed Dylan Andersen in stride for a one-time finish from 14 yards for his first collegiate goal.
Fiema finished off his first hat trick in a Lancer uniform at the 89:28 mark. He stole a ball from a Spring Arbor defender and scored from a sharp angle along the right endline.
Overall, Grace held a slight 20-19 advantage in shot attempts and a 5-4 advantage in corner kicks.
Senior goalkeeper Collin Cone made 11 saves, including a number of fine plays, to limit Spring Arbor to one goal in 90 minutes.
The Lancers will play at Saint Francis on Tuesday at 7 p.m. before welcoming Mount Vernon Nazarene to Miller Field on Saturday for their regular-season league finale.