MISHAWAKA – Two goals scored three minutes apart secured a 2-1 win for the Grace College men’s soccer team at Bethel College on Saturday.
The Lancers opened up the Crossroads League season with a gritty victory over the Pilots (5-5, 0-1 CL) in a match that included 23 fouls and five yellow cards.
The first half was a scoreless 45 minutes. Bethel outshot Grace 7-4 in the half, forcing goalkeeper Kurt Hamlin into action on a few occasions. The Pilots had two rapid shots that Hamlin did well to keep out of the net.
Grace’s best look of the half came from substitute Mitchell Zeilenga. The senior forward’s shot in the 39th minute was saved out for a corner kick.
Early in the second half, Damon Binkley had a shot from inside the penalty box that sailed above the crossbar.
Fifteen minutes into the half, Hamlin was again needed to make an acrobatic save from a shot off a Pilot corner kick.
The Lancers (6-1-2, 1-0 CL) got on the scoreboard minutes later. Grace earned a free kick near the top of the penalty box. After a fancy build up, Cody Boerema unleashed a laser of a shot just below the crossbar for his team-leading sixth goal of the season.
Less than three minutes later, Nikola Djordjevic doubled Grace’s advantage. After receiving the ball, Djordjevic dribbled around Bethel’s goalkeeper and calmly passed the ball into the open net at the 64:23 mark.
The final 10 minutes proved to be frenetic, especially after Bethel cut Grace’s lead in half. The Pilots scored in the 83rd minute after a nifty run through the Lancers’ midfield.
Bethel pushed forward desperately in the final minutes and nearly tied the score. The Pilots hit the crossbar with the final shot of the match with just 20 seconds remaining. Bethel also had two corners in the last minute, but the Lancers held on until the final whistle blew.
Hamlin was credited with four saves in 90 minutes as Grace’s goalkeeper. The Lancers were outshot 18-12 in the match, but 11 of Grace’s shots were on goal.
Daniel Smith and Boerema had three shots apiece to lead Grace’s offense.
The Lancers will return home on Wednesday for a league matchup with Marian at 7 p.m.