WINONA LAKE – The Grace College men’s soccer team scored three first-half goals in their 2013 season premier to win 3-1 against the University of Pikeville on Saturday.
Reigning Crossroads League Offensive Player of the Year Steven Fiema picked up where he left off last year with two goals and an assist to pace the Lancers (1-0).
“It was good to find the net early in the game. We still have many things to improve on, and it is too early to see where we will end up,” said head coach Matt Hotchkin. “We have a good idea of what we are capable of. We have players that can affect games in a variety of ways.”
Fiema wasted little time putting the Lancers on the scoreboard with a goal in the first minute. After getting free behind the Bears’ defense, the sophomore forward used a clinical left-footed finish to score.
Sophomore defender Justin Festa doubled Grace’s lead with an athletic headed goal in the box, finishing a corner kick from Fiema.
The Bears (0-1) struck back with a penalty kick one minute after Festa’s header in the 12th minute.
But Grace responded with a penalty kick of its own at the 39:44 mark as Fiema’s second goal reinstated the team’s two-goal cushion.
Shane Barthuly and Ben Bassous also nearly scored late in the first half with shots that were saved off the goal line by Bears’ defenders.
Neither team could penetrate the nets in the second half as the Lancers controlled play. Overall in the match Grace outshot Pikeville 24-15, limiting the Bears to four shots on goal.
“I wasn’t happy about our injuries as we already have too many guys healing up,” Hotchkin continued. “Now we need to sharpen our focus and work much harder to keep high expectations throughout the entire duration of a match.”
Junior Jacob Cole earned the win in goal for Grace, making three saves in 90 minutes.
Fiema led all players with four shots on goal, and freshman Jonathan Sands came off the bench to tally three shots in his first collegiate action. Danilo Carnelos and Thomas Tydeman also made their Lancer debuts against Pikeville.
Saturday’s match was at times physical as the game accumulated 30 fouls and six bookings.
The Lancers continue nonleague competition next week with games against Mid-Continent and Judson on Friday and Saturday.