WINONA LAKE – Seventh-seeded Taylor University shocked Grace’s women’s soccer team in a penalty kick shootout on Saturday, eliminating the Lady Lancers from the Crossroads League Tournament.
The score could not be separated through regulation and two overtime periods, ending in a 1-1 draw. The Trojans then made 3-of-5 in the penalty shootout and saved three of Grace’s attempts to advance to next week’s semifinals.
“We are all pretty disappointed with today’s result. I don’t think we were great today, but we weren’t bad enough to fail to advance,” said Grace head coach Michael Voss. “We had great chances to hit game winners, and they just did not come.”
Grace was dealt a major blow offensively when the team’s leading scorer Meredith Hollar was injured less than a minute into the game. She was not able to return to action on Saturday.
Emily Hickerson sparked one of the best chances in the first period with a strong pass from the right endline. Her cross connected with Jordan Hairgrove, but Hairgrove’s shot was saved from point-blank range 25 minutes into the match.
Taylor countered immediately, latching onto a deflected ball in Grace’s penalty box and scrambling in the game’s first goal.
The Lady Lancers responded well as Hickerson and Hairgrove nearly repeated their effort a few minutes later. In the 38th minute, Grace thought it had the game-tying goal off a corner kick. Kaitlan Wiles hit a shot to the far post from the center of the box, but Taylor’s goalkeeper made a diving save to prevent a sure goal.
Wiles was a central figure in the second half. Three minutes into the second period, Hairgrove picked out Wiles behind Taylor’s defense. Wiles sidestepped the charging goalkeeper, but her shot attempt went wide under intense pressure from behind.
Seven minutes later, Meghan Wiles passed to her sister in the box, but Kaitlan Wiles’s left-footed shot was denied by the goalpost. In the 59th minute, Hickerson made a nifty move past a Trojan defender, but her shot pinged off the far post again.
Hickerson’s strong performance paid off in the 71st minute with the game-tying assist. Hickerson dribbled along the left endline and calmly slotted a pass to Holly Bennett at the top of the box, and Bennett’s curled shot knotted the score at 1-1.
Both teams had chances for the game winner in the overtime periods, but neither team was able to pierce the nets. Mallory Rondeau was denied by a fantastic save by Taylor’s goalie in a one-on-one situation.
“Our group must be able to deliver when it’s on the line in tournament time. We will grow stronger from this,” Voss said. “This is a fantastic group. They are amazing futballers and even better Christ-followers. We will rebound and refocus our attention.”
Grace will hope to prolong its season by qualifying for the NCCAA National Championships. The Lady Lancers have reached NCCAA Nationals in three of the past four seasons.