KISSIMMEE, Fla. – For the first time in program history, Grace’s women’s soccer team has won 20 games in a season.
The Lady Lancers (20-4) continued their impressive play with a 3-0 win over Central Christian in pool play at the NCCAA National Championships.
Former Warsaw Lady Tiger standout Liz Van Wormer netted two goals in the second half to propel the Lady Lancers past the Tigers (11-10).
Grace has one match remaining in pool play, a pseudo-semifinal game against Oklahoma Wesleyan on Thursday at noon. Grace and Oklahoma Wesleyan are the only unbeaten teams in the pool, meaning the winner of that match will play for the national championship.
Grace needs to win Thursday’s match in order to win the group. Oklahoma Wesleyan would advance in the event of a draw on Thursday, based on the tiebreakers.
The Lady Lancers jumped on the scoreboard early on Tuesday. On a short corner, Kristen Bellinger sent in a low drive that clanged off the goalpost. The loose ball in the box was cleaned up by Corinne Villalobos, who drove her shot past the goalkeeper at the 11:30 mark.
Minutes later, Grace nearly scored again. Shelby Fort led Jenni Phillips with a pass in the center of the box, but Phillips drug her shot wide of the far post.
One minute later Grace threatened again. Villalobos picked out Fort just outside the right edge of the box, and Fort’s high shot went a foot above the crossbar.
Flavia Faria subbed into the match 27 minutes into the game and made a quick impact. She won a corner kick on her first touch and then had a shot attempt that went high.
Five minutes later, Faria won another free kick. Anna Kuhl lined up for the 19-yard free kick, but her hard shot was saved at the left goalpost.
The first half was controlled in large part by Grace. The Lady Lancers remained almost constantly in Central’s half of the field and took 10 shots overall.
Central mustered one shot and saw Grace take eight corner kicks in the first 45 minutes. But Grace had to settle for a 1-0 lead at halftime.
The Lady Lancers continued their assault after halftime, but Grace struggled to find the back of the net for the first 20 minutes of the second half.
Ten minutes into the second half, Clair Snodgrass beat her opponent on the right endline and crossed to the far post. Allison Vroon was open near the post, but her header was off the mark.
Liz Van Wormer tried a hard shot with her left foot in the 70th minute, but her effort went wide.
On the very next play, Villalobos won the goal kick and quickly passed to Van Wormer. Van Wormer made good on her chance, slotting her shot inside the right post.
Seven minutes later, Van Wormer scored again. Riley Koch chipped a pass in front of goal to start the play. The ball fell to the feet of Van Wormer, who blasted her goal into the top part of the net.
In the waning minutes, Grace went searching for a fourth goal. Van Wormer, Villalobos and Phillips each had shots in the last two minutes that missed the mark.
For the match Grace owned a 23-1 advantage in shots and a 10-0 edge in corner kicks.
Bethany Blackwood was not required to make a save in her 90-minute shutout as Grace’s goalkeeper. She was guarded well by the defensive line of Liz Aalbue, Kuhl, Aubrey Feipel and Snodgrass.
Van Wormer led all players with five shots, Kuhl shot four times, and Bellinger and Villalobos each had three attempts.