WINONA LAKE – Grace College got the job done on both ends, beating Bethel University in men’s soccer on campus while the ladies beat Bethel in Mishawaka on Wednesday.
GRACE MEN 2, BETHEL 0
In a battle at the top of the Crossroads League, Grace’s men’s soccer team came out triumphant with a 2-0 win over Bethel on Wednesday.
The Lancers (8-2-2, 2-0-1 CL) used goals from Togo Narusawa and Cody Boerema to blank the Pilots (8-3-1, 2-1 CL). The win moves Grace into sole position of second place in the league standings, less than a game out the league lead.
Grace seemed to have the upper hand on rival Bethel for much of the match at 1st Source Bank Field, collecting the better share of possession and chances. The Lancers outshot the Pilots 22-12, including a 10-3 advantage in corner kicks.
“Bethel is a difficult team to play against because they have a lot of weapons in their arsenal. I thought our guys did an excellent job defending their threats,” said Grace head coach Matt Hotchkin. “Having a two-goal cushion is a good position to be in, and the guys kept their composure for the second half. This is a solid win. Everyone in our conference is solid, so we’ve got about an hour to enjoy this before we focus on Saturday.”
Approximately 10 minutes into Wednesday’s match, Grace began to take control. During a 20-minute stretch in the first half, the Lancers outshot Bethel 9-1.
Grace’s pressure eventually produced a goal. Ulisses Miranda found space outside the penalty box and blasted a low shot; his attempt was parried away by Bethel’s goalkeeper, but Togo Narusawa alertly poked in the rebound in the 27th minute for a 1-0 lead.
In the final minutes of the half, Grace struck again. Cody Boerema received a pass at the midfield stripe and began a dizzying, weaving run at Bethel’s goal. He beat four defenders and uncorked a left-footed shot on the left side of the box, sneaking into the net to double Grace’s cushion.
Grace slowed down its attack in the second half after shooting 13 first-half attempts. The Lancers still shot nine times after halftime, including six on frame.
Bethel had better chances in the second half after being muted prior to halftime. But Grace’s defense was resolute to blank the Pilots.
Kurt Hamlin made three saves in 90 minutes for the shutout, and he was protected well by Gabriel Osti, Romain Chantrel, Ivan Santagiuliana and Josiah Osborn.
The match became fairly physical in the middle portions of the second half. Bethel accounted for 17 of the 26 fouls called on Wednesday.
Boerema led all players with six shots and three on goal, and Narusawa also had three shots on goal.
“The Grace Red Zone was such a huge help tonight and gave us a resounding home field advantage,” Hotchkin continued. “Thanks to everyone who organized and who showed up tonight to help us get the win!”
Saturday will be Grace’s Homecoming match at 1st Source Bank Field. Grace will host Taylor at 2:30 p.m. in the climax of the college’s Homecoming activities.
GRACE WOMEN 5, BETHEL 0
Grace’s women’s soccer team stretched its winning streak to seven courtesy of a 5-0 rout at Bethel on Wednesday.
The Lady Lancers (11-1, 3-0 Crossroads League) are off to their best start in program history, tied with the 2009 squad which also started 11-1.
Grace’s seven-game winning streak is the longest since an eight-game streak in 2015.
Four different players scored against the Pilots (3-4-4, 1-2 CL) on Wednesday. Grace had three goals in the first half to set the stage for the rest of the match.
In the 10th minute, a well-built attack resulted in Grace’s first goal. Allison Vroon and Jenni Phillips teamed up for a give-and-go to reach Bethel’s penalty box, and Phillips centered a pass to Shelby Fort in front of goal. Fort alertly laid off a pass to Corinne Villalobos, who drilled her shot into the net.
Phillips struck twice shortly after to blow open the contest. She scored at the 14:47 mark, assisted by Fort, and again at the 23:36 mark, assisted by Kristen Bellinger.
Grace was credited with an 8-5 advantage in the first half, and Bethel’s chances grew even slimmer after halftime. The Pilots was limited to one corner kick and zero shots over the final 40 minutes while Grace grew its cushion.
Bellinger picked up her second assist of the match, finding Fort in the 54th minute to make the score 4-0.
Bellinger then added an unassisted goal to her sterling performance at the 58:47 mark to close out the evening’s scoring.
Phillips finished with two goals and an assist, and Bellinger and Fort each had one goal and two assists.
Bethany Blackwood recorded yet another shutout as goalkeeper — her ninth of the season — while making three saves. Overall, 19 players saw the pitch for Grace.
Grace’s winning streak contains some mind-boggling numbers. The Lady Lancers have outscored their opponents 37-1, and Grace has six shutouts during that stretch alone. Grace has at least two goals in all of those matches, including five games with five or more goals.
The Lady Lancers remain on the road Saturday, playing at No. 18 Taylor at 7 p.m.