MISHAWAKA – A memorable second-half fantastic finish from Austin Altimus lifted the Grace College men’s soccer team to a 1-0 victory at Bethel on Saturday.
The shutout win propels the Lancers (8-5-1, 3-3-1 Crossroads League) into fifth place in the league standings, giving Grace two straight wins.
“The guys played brave tonight. Our defense held strong against a solid offensive team and limited Bethel to only a few good opportunities,” said Grace head coach Matt Hotchkin. “The guys earned this road victory with a couple regular starters out. Many players played non-typical roles and played them with confidence. Now we will work to carry this momentum into Wednesday’s match with Marian.”
Saturday’s match was a physical battle that included 29 fouls and eight yellow cards. The Pilots (8-6-1, 3-4 CL) limited the Lancers to just two shots in the first half, both of which occurred within the first 14 minutes of play.
The Lancers’ offense found a spark immediately in the second half. Grace took three shots over the first eight minutes after halftime, but the match would not be decided until the 72nd minute.
Altimus subbed in during the 64th minute. It did not take long for him to make an impact. He unleashed a 25-yard blast with his left foot to beat Bethel’s goalkeeper at the 71:09 mark.
“Austin’s cracker of a goal from deep combined with our consistent play all around was all that we needed tonight,” Hotchkin said. “I’m not sure I’ve seen a more beautiful shot, which he hit with his weak foot.”
The Pilots took five shots down the stretch in search for an equalizer, but Grace’s defense denied their efforts. Senior goalkeeper Jacob Cole had the shutout victory for Grace with five saves in 90 minutes.
Although Grace was outshot 16-7 for the match, only six of Bethel’s 16 shots were on goal.
The Lancers’ final home game of the regular season is on Wednesday 7 p.m. against Marian. The match will be “Senior Night” to honor Grace’s graduating class.