WINONA LAKE – An unrelenting offense attack by Grace’s men’s soccer team resulted in a 2-0 win over St. Francis on Saturday.
Both goals from the Lancers (7-4-2, 2-3 Crossroads League) were scored in the second half, snapping a three-match losing streak.
Grace dominated possession in the minutes after kickoff. The hosts built up a patient attack through the middle, but a pass to Mitchell Zeilenga was intercepted by the Cougars’ goalkeeper at the last moment.
Twenty minutes into the half, Daniel Smith sent a perfect leading pass to Zeilenga on the right side of the field. USF’s goalkeeper was forced to foul Zeilenga just outside the penalty box rather than give up a clear shot.
The ensuing free kick produced a golden opportunity. Cody Boerema’s low kick rolled in front of the net, but no Lancer could get on the finishing end of a sure goal.
With four minutes left in the period, the Cougars (4-8-1, 1-4 CL) mishit their defensive clearance. Grace nearly capitalized. Colin Cape cut to his left and sliced a shot to the crossbar, but the Cougars’ goalkeeper parried the shot just above the bar.
The first half picked up physicality as the clock ticked down. The period included four yellow cards—three on the Cougars—and 26 fouls.
Grace did not have to wait long to get on the scoreboard in the second half. The Lancers immediately applied intense pressure on the Cougars’ net which resulted in two goals.
Damon Binkley made a nifty cross along the ground from the right side of the field. The ball rolled to Daniel Smith who slammed in his shot from close range at the 48:36 mark.
Just two minutes later, Boerema made a cut inside the penalty box and was tackled for a penalty kick. Boerema stepped up and drilled his attempt inside the upper corner of the net.
Grace refused to slow its attack and almost scored a few more goals. Binkley took three shots in rapid succession inside the box that were denied. His first shot was saved, the second appeared to be stopped by the hand of a Cougar defender, and the third railed off the goalpost.
The Lancers’ offense seemed to wear down St. Francis in the second half, refusing to let the Cougars mount any semblance of a comeback. Grace outshot St. Francis 20-3 after halftime.
For the match, Grace had a 27-7 advantage in shots and a 12-1 advantage in corner kicks.
Binkley led all players with six shots, and Smith had five. Cape and Santiago Maya each tried three shots.
Kurt Hamlin earned the shutout in goal for Grace, making four saves. He was protected well by the backline of Jon Sands, Brayton Taylor, Gabriel Osti and Josiah Osborn.
The Lancers will remain home on Wednesday, welcoming Huntington for a 7 p.m. match at 1st Source Bank Field.