WINONA LAKE – Grace’s men’s soccer team used two goals on either side of halftime to defeat Ohio Christian and improve to 3-0 on the season.
The Lancers earned goals from Henrique Cerruti and Daniel Smith to beat Ohio Christian 2-1 on Saturday at Miller Athletic Complex.
The Lancers outshot the Trailblazers (0-2) by eight on the evening, 13-5. But Grace had to hold on late to survive a late charge by OCU.
Ohio Christian only had one shot in the first half, but it was a strong attempt. OCU’s shot forced Grace goalkeeper Robbie Barnhill into making a one-handed save, which parried the shot above the crossbar.
The Lancers secured control of the match shortly after OCU’s shot and had the better chances for the rest of the half.
Thomas Tydeman had a low shot saved, and Jon Christensen tried a long effort after creating space from the midfield.
Nikola Djordjevic thought he had put Grace ahead in the 22nd minute. After a nice buildup with Tydeman, Djordjevic slotted a shot around OCU’s goalkeeper, but the shot clanged off the post.
Grace eventually broke through in the 44th minute. Breno Oliveira tried a shot from outside the box which was blocked. Cerruti pounced on the ball first and calmly laced his shot inside the right post for his first collegiate goal.
Grace’s second goal came 10 minutes into the second half. Daniel Smith found space at the top edge of the box and curled his effort into the far post. The moment marked Smith’s first goal as a Lancer.
But Ohio Christian stayed within striking distance. The Trailblazers used a quick attack in the 85th minute to score their first goal, setting up a nervy finish for the Lancers.
OCU earned a 25-yard free kick in the final 80 seconds of the match, but Grace’s defense cleared away the cross and held on for the 2-1 victory.
“We struggled to connect our offense with the rest of the team tonight. We produced many quality chances in the first half but failed to score several times. The second half started well, but we dropped off our tempo. We were disconnected and showed no real plan in our attack,” said Grace head coach Matt Hotchkin. “It’s a process right now, and we are all learning together. We are slowly becoming a team, and as that happens our soccer will improve.”
Grace outshot OCU 8-1 in the first half and 5-4 in the second. Robbie Barnhill tended Grace’s net in the first half and made one save, while Kurt Hamlin finished the match as goalie after halftime and had three saves.
The Lancers are on the road Tuesday with a match at Moody Bible. Grace returns home next Saturday for a tussle with Bluefield.