WINONA LAKE – The Grace College women’s soccer team was stunned by 10th-ranked Spring Arbor on Wednesday night, falling 2-1 in overtime.
In a battle for first place in the Crossroads League, the Lady Lancers (7-3-2, 3-1 CL) were eight minutes from victory. But the Cougars (10-1-1, 4-0 CL) found an equalizer in the 82nd minute before claiming the golden-goal winner four minutes into overtime to escape Miller Field with a win.
Grace seemed to have the upper hand in the first half, possessing the ball for the better part of the opening period. The Lady Lancers broke onto the scoreboard at the 27:00 mark. Mallory Rondeau lofted a well-placed pass to Kaitlan Wiles on the right side of the penalty box, and Wiles slammed her shot inside the far post to give Grace the 1-0 lead.
The first half also saw an apparent handball in the penalty box by the Cougars waived off by the official.
In the second half, the Cougars gained assertiveness on the offensive end with six shots after halftime. Spring Arbor’s game-tying strike came off a cross into the box that was redirected into the net just eight minutes before the final horn.
Grace recovered to claim a few late chances in regulation. Carianne Sobey’s pass to Jordan Hairgrove nearly won the match in the final minutes, but the shot from Hairgrove sliced just outside the goalpost.
In the overtime period, Grace again began its possession attack to put the Cougars on their heels. But an intercepted pass in the midfield led to a defensive breakdown for Grace, and Corrie Good sliced the golden-goal winner past goalkeeper Abigail Schue to end Grace’s upset bid.
Kaitlan Wiles, Kelsey Christner and Hairgrove each took two shots apiece to lead Grace.
“The women were brilliant in the first half and played some great futbol with intelligent decisions. Unfortunately we did not finish the match that way,” said Grace head coach Michael Voss. “There isn’t a delicate way to deal with the hand ball in the first half. That could have made it 2-0 and would change the complexity of the match. Spring Arbor is a good team and highly rated, and they capitalized in the second half and overtime. This gives us room to improve, but there is so much to be proud of in this crew. We will regroup and find the next level. I have no doubt.”
The Lady Lancers, who are receiving the 26th-most votes in the latest NAIA poll, will look to rebound on Saturday with a home match against No. 21 Mt. Vernon Nazarene at 7 p.m.