WINONA LAKE – A late goal from No. 8 Spring Arbor in double overtime sealed a dramatic 3-2 defeat for the Grace College women’s soccer team on Tuesday.
The Lady Lancers went toe-to-toe with the Cougars and led twice in the match, but Spring Arbor made their shots count to maintain their national ranking.
“This was a difficult result for us today. This match could have gone either way. Spring Arbor is a good team and play their system well,” said Grace head coach Michael Voss. “Our back line rose up today. When we settled into our style, we were outstanding and created dangerous opportunities. It just took too long to get that going.”
Three goals were scored in a frantic four minutes in the first half. Grace’s Holly Bennett scored first in the 16th minute. Emily Hickerson dribbled past a defender on the left endline and passed to Carianne Sobey. Sobey found Bennett in the penalty box for a clean finish.
The Cougars (12-2-1; 6-0 Crossroads League) responded two minutes later when Grace’s backline misplayed a cross, leading to a Karly Linton goal.
The Lady Lancers (8-6; 5-1 CL) grabbed their second lead of the game at the 19:46 mark. Meredith Hollar found space on the right side of the field and crossed to Jordan Hairgrove in front of goal. Hairgrove made the score 2-1 with a strike by Spring Arbor’s goalkeeper.
The second half increased in physicality as 15 fouls were called after halftime. The Cougars knotted the score at 2-2 off a deep shot that found the back of the net.
Neither team managed to find the winning goal in regulation, setting up a tense pair of overtime periods.
Grace was the offensive aggressor in overtime, nearly winning the match in the first minute. A through ball connected with Hairgrove on her run at goal, but Hairgrove’s lofted shot was saved by Spring Arbor.
The Lady Lancers outshot the Cougars 5-2 in the overtime periods and took the only two corner kicks, but Spring Arbor’s Linton netted the game winner on a 25-yard shot with five minutes left in the second overtime session.
“This match hurt us, literally taking a toll on us,” Voss continued. “We were fantastic in overtime and nearly got the winner, but it wasn’t to be today. The Grace women competed today and fought through valiantly.”
The teams combined to post similar numbers statistically. Spring Arbor held a minor 19-16 advantage in shots with both teams taking 13 shots on goal. The physical match contained 32 fouls.
Hollar attempted five shots for Grace, and Emily Hickerson and Mallory Rondeau added three shots.
The Lady Lancers continue league play on Saturday when they host St. Francis at 4 p.m. at Miller Field.