By Josh Neuhart
Grace College Sports Information
WINONA LAKE – Grace’s women’s soccer team wrapped up the regular season with a 1-0 win over Bethel on Monday.
With the win, No. 14 Grace has secured a top-four finish in the league. As a result, Grace will host a quarterfinal match on Saturday in the Crossroads League Tournament. Saturday’s opponent and game time are to be determined.
Alexis Larimore was the hero on Monday, scoring the game’s only goal on a tremendous effort in the penalty box.
From the opening kickoff, Grace applied immediate and dangerous pressure on Bethel’s net.
Victoria Lucido, Larimore and Lea Fricke each had well-worked shots in the first 12 minutes of the game that missed the mark.
Sacia Hanson proved to be a constant threat on the wing. Three times in short succession, she wove through Bethel’s defense and unleashed a hard shot. But each time her shot on goal was saved.
Minutes later, a deep attack nearly forced an own goal by the Pilots (1-9, 1-8 CL). On the ensuing corner kick, Erin Crew tried a curling effort that clanged off the crossbar.
With 11 minutes left in the half, Madison Tuma also tried a shot that hit the crossbar.
In the 36th minute, the deadlock was broken. Alexis Larimore found space in the penalty box and ripped off a shot that pounded into the back of the net for the game’s first goal.
That goal proved to be the only one of the half. The Lady Lancers (6-2-1, 5-2-1 CL) dominated every aspect of the stats, outshooting the Pilots 15-0 before halftime with nine shots on goal.
The second half was more of the same. Grace controlled the ball and kept the ball in the Pilots’ end of the field for practically the full half.
Bethel earned its first chance of the game with 30 minutes remaining on the clock. The Pilots were awarded a free kick near the top of the penalty box. Blackwood was up for the challenge and saved the shot attempt with ease.
The match remained in Grace’s favor after Bethel’s sole chance. With 15 minutes left in the match, Grace earned a free kick from just outside the penalty area. Larimore’s shot was parried off the crossbar by Bethel’s goalkeeper to keep the match 1-0.
The Lady Lancers were unable to score again before the end of regulation. Grace held a 22-1 advantage in shots with 12 of those shots on goal. Grace also tried eight corner kicks.
Larimore’s six shots led all players, and Hanson tried three shots. Lucido, Fricke, Tuma and Adelee Gartner each had two shots.
Bethany Blackwood saved Bethel’s only shot of the match to record her third straight shutout.