WINONA LAKE – A second-half goal from Mallory Rondeau lifted Grace’s women’s soccer team to a crucial 1-0 upset of No. 21 Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Saturday night.
The Lady Lancers (8-3-2, 4-1 Crossroads League) took a major step toward its first national ranking in the NAIA Top 25 thanks to a free kick goal from Rondeau in the 54th minute. She curled her free kick from the left side of the field inside the far post for the game’s only goal.
“The women were very disciplined today. They lived in possession, stayed tactically sound offensively and defensively and did not give away anything dangerous,” said Grace head coach Michael Voss. “It was encouraging to see them demonstrate patience and work our style to be successful. It was a strong win for us, specifically coming off Wednesday where we did not finish the match when we were minutes away from winning. I’m particularly proud of the women for making this improvement.”
Overall for the match Grace nearly doubled Mt. Vernon’s shot attempts 13-7, including 5-2 in the second half. The Cougars went down to 10 players with a red card in the 64th minute.
In the first half, Grace’s offense started slowly but sparked to life in the final 10 minutes. Holly Bennett unleashed a hard free kick from 20 yards out that went a few yards wide, and Carianne Sobey had a shot attempt cleared off the goal line by a Cougar defender.
The Lady Lancers’ defense yielded few clear opportunities for the Cougars (10-3-1, 3-2 CL) in the second half, holding Mt. Vernon to just two shots.
Grace had chances to score in the final 20 minutes including threatening shots from Mallory Rondeau and Kaitlyn Hayes, but the scoreline would remain 1-0.
Freshman goalkeeper Abby Schue earned the shutout victory with five saves in 90 minutes. The backline of Heather Martin, Faith Voehringer, Meredith Matson, Erica Manchess and Carlie Salinas bolstered Grace’s defense.
Rondeau led all players with five shots and four on goal, and Sobey added three shots.
Grace is currently receiving the 26th-most votes in the NAIA. Grace went 1-1 on the week with an upset of the 21st-ranked Cougars and a 2-1 overtime loss to No. 10 Spring Arbor – a match in which Grace was ahead for the first 82 minutes. The next edition of the NAIA poll will come out Tuesday evening. The Lady Lancers are hoping to earn the program’s first national ranking.
Next up, the Lady Lancers will travel to Goshen on Tuesday night for a 7 p.m. kickoff.