By Josh Neuhart
Grace College Sports Information
PULASKI, Tenn. – For the second straight year, Grace’s women’s soccer team met up with Benedictine (Kan.) in the NAIA National Championships.
And for the second straight postseason, the Lady Lancers knocked out the Ravens 1-0.
Madison Tuma played the hero on Thursday as her early second-half goal proved to be the difference.
No. 14 Grace will now advance to play the host of the NAIA Opening Round pod. Grace and No. 4 Martin Methodist will square off at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The winner of that game will advance to the NAIA final site in Foley, Ala.
Both sides had chances to score in the first half. Grace varied its attack, at times threatening down the middle and at times advancing along the sidelines.
Conversely, Benedictine was most dangerous on set pieces and counters. The Ravens had a few chances on corner kicks as well as direct dribbles at Grace’s net. But Bethany Blackwood remained firm in goal with five saves before halftime.
Sacia Hanson proved to be a nuisance for the Ravens’ back line, dancing her way around defenders and creating several opportunities.
Two of Grace’s best looks came late in the half. The first was one a shot from Tori Calizo which was saved. The second came off a corner kick, but Amber Meade’s header in the penalty box was also denied.
Calizo’s two shots before halftime tied for the most in the half; she had two shots in the season entering Thursday’s game.
Grace quickly advanced to the Ravens’ end of the field to start the second half and scored the decisive goal.
Liz Aalbue, Danae Moriarty and Tuma teamed up for a quick attack, and Tuma’s lofted shot topped the goalkeeper and found the back of the net.
Grace refused to sit on the lead and continued to press for an insurance goal. But another goal was not to be found by either side.
The Ravens were largely limited to long-range attempts, and Grace possessed the ball until the final whistle.
Grace finished with 15 shots and seven on goal, and the Ravens tried 12 shots. Grace also had a 4-3 edge in corner kicks.
Alexis Larimore led Grace with three shots. Lea Fricke, Hanson, Calizo, JJ Aalbue and Tuma each shot twice.
Blackwood registered eight saves to record the shutout in goal. She was protected well by Meade, Erin Crew, Lea Moessinger, Liz Aalbue and Brooke Kohler.