By virtue of Grace’s 3-2 win over Mount Vernon Nazarene, the Lancers (10-4-2; 5-2-2 CL) clinched third place in the league standings, which kick off Oct. 27.
Grace was strong in possession after the opening whistle of Saturday’s match. The Lancers struck first when freshman Steven Fiema blasted in his 10th goal of the season. Fiema cut in toward the top of the penalty box and unleashed a left-footed shot from 25 yards that beat the goalkeeper with ease.
The Lancers held Mount Vernon to three shots in the first half and entered halftime leading by one.
The match picked up in intensity when the Cougars (10-5-3; 5-2-2 CL) equalized early in the second half.
Grace, who tallied 13 shots in the second half, responded with a penalty kick in the 69th minute. Mount Vernon was whistled for a handball inside the penalty box, and Gift Sibukome tucked away his PK for Grace’s second goal.
Mount Vernon did not back down on Grace’s “Senior Day,” however, as they tied the score again at the 84:07 mark to set up the frenetic final minutes.
Austin Altimus nearly won the game with two minutes left when his shot ricocheted off the crossbar, but he would not have to wait long for another chance.
Fiema took a shot on goal with 1:10 remaining in the game that was deflected away by the Cougars’ goalkeeper, and Altimus positioned himself to finish off the rebound for a late game winner.
Grace outshot Mount Vernon 16-11 overall in the match and had a 13-8 shot advantage in the second half. Altimus led all players with five shots, Fiema tallied four shots, and Shane Barthuly added three attempts.
Senior goalkeeper Collin Cone made six saves in 90 minutes to secure Grace’s win. He, along with fellow seniors Trenton Porter and Sam Cole, were honored prior to Grace’s match.
The Lancers have one final tune-up match at Purdue Calumet on Monday before preparing for the first round of the Crossroads League Tournament. Grace will host the No. 6 seed of the bracket at Miller Field on Saturday.