Barnhill Honored as League Player of Week

October 12th, 2015

For the second time this season, Grace goalkeeper Robbie Barnhill was named the Crossroads League Defensive Player of the Week.

Barnhill had another strong defensive week, shutting out Mt. Vernon Nazarene in an overtime victory. He made five saves and surrendered one goal in a 2-1 win over Spring Arbor.

Grace’s defense has recorded five shutouts for the season, ranking No. 22 in the NAIA.

The Lancers currently boast a 9-4 overall record and are tied for first in the Crossroads League at 4-1. This week Grace will travel to Goshen on Wednesday and play at home against Bethel on Saturday.

Overtime PK Lifts Lancers Past Mt. Vernon

October 12th, 2015

A Kyle Hamlin penalty kick gave Grace a 1-0 overtime win over Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Saturday.

The Lancers move to 9-4 overall and 4-1 in the Crossroads League, maintaining a tie for first place in the CL standings.

Despite a number of strong chances for both teams, the match remained scoreless until the 97th minute. Jon Christensen played a through ball to Damon Binkley on the right side of the penalty box. Binkley cut back toward the middle and was pulled down, resulting in the penalty kick call. Hamlin then calmly drilled the ensuing PK to win the match in golden goal fashion.

Grace outshot the Cougars (5-5-4, 1-2-2 CL) 11-6 in the match, while Mt. Vernon had three shots on goal compared to two for Grace.

Both teams had good looks in the opening 10 minutes. Mt. Vernon nearly scored off a corner kick, but Dylan Andersen headed the ball off the goal line.

Nikola Djordjevic got a shot off after Grace forced a turnover. He had another look in the 15th minute, firing above the crossbar after the freshman split two defenders.

The first threatening chance of the second half went to Grace. Collin Cape unleashed a 22-yard blast off a free kick that forced a nice save by the Cougars’ goalkeeper.

Dominic Harris proved to be a central figure in the second half, breaking loose for a pair of fastbreak opportunities. But the forward was unable to direct his shots on frame.

Justin Festa also had a headed effort in the final minute of regulation that went high, and the match headed to overtime.

Grace, who outshot Mt. Vernon 7-2 in the second half, continued to be the offensive aggressor in overtime. Mt. Vernon was held without a shot attempt in overtime, and Grace’s winning play happened in the 97th minute.

Robbie Barnhill picked up his fifth shutout of the season in goal, making three saves. He was defended well by the back line of Andersen, Justin Festa, Jonathan Sands and Josiah Osborn.

The Lancers will travel to Goshen on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. clash with the Maple Leafs.

Grace Runners Earn PRs at Bethel Invite

October 12th, 2015

Several runners for Grace’s cross country team produced season-best times at the Bethel Invitational on Friday.

The women’s team placed seventh out of 17 squads while the men were 11th out of 14 in the race.

The Lady Lancers posted their second-fastest team time of the year at 1:39.28. The women beat out three other Crossroads League teams — Bethel, St. Francis and Goshen.

Katelyn McCullough continued to lead the squad, earning a ninth-place finish in 19:02. Four freshmen followed McCullough in the race. Ariel Arellano was 17th in 19:21, and Raven Arellano was 35th in 19:46. Julia Neal crossed the finish line in 20:33, and Karla Singer was just behind her in 20:44.

McCullough, Raven Arellano, Neal and Elizabeth Fox (22:00) all had season-best performances.

“I thought the women ran very well, especially coming off a tough week of exams. Four of the six teams in front of us are ranked in the NAIA poll so there was strong competition,” said Grace head coach Jeff Raymond. “Kate [McCullough] continues to gain confidence as she finishes well in bigger meets. Raven [Arellano] had a very nice run, and Julia [Neal] continues to be a pleasant surprise for our team.”

On the men’s side, Grace’s top four runners were all underclassmen. Freshman Joel Bertelsen ran the fastest time of his young career, ending the race in 26:45 for 25th place.

Fellow freshman Sam Hall was next in a PR time of 27:25, and Tyler Houvener was third for the Lancers in 27:53. Brendan Hamilton crossed the finish line in 28:15, and Brandon Smith was not far behind at 28:27. Hamilton, Smith and Hunter Reed all returned from injury to compete on Friday.

“We had most of our men’s team compete today, so our health is improving,” Raymond continued. “Joel [Bertelsen] ran a very determined race, and it produced a big PR for him. Sam [Hall] also had a good day and is gaining confidence. We still have a month until our conference meet, so our plan is to peak at that time.”

The Lancers have one warmup race remaining before the Crossroads League season. Grace will tackle the Great Lakes Challenge in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Oct. 24. The CL Championship will be held at Huntington University on Nov. 7.

Kurkulin, Kurkova Honored as All-League

October 12th, 2015

Grace’s tennis programs were given two All-Crossroads League awards on Friday.

Natalia Kurkova from the women’s team and Danila Kurkulin of the men’s side earned spots on the All-League Team.

Kurkova was Grace’s No. 1 singles and doubles player for the Lady Lancers. She posted a 5-6 record teaming up with Molly Fitzpatrick at No. 1 doubles and was 7-4 at the top singles’ position.

Kurkulin was the No. 1 singles and doubles player on the men’s squad. He had a sparkling 9-2 record at No. 1 doubles with Ethan Grove and was also 7-3 at No. 1 singles. Kurkulin also found success at the ITA Regional Tournament, advancing to the tournament finals in both singles and doubles — a first-time accomplishment for Grace’s program.

Grace Spikers Top Goshen, Jump into Third Place

October 8th, 2015

Grace’s volleyball team continued its climb up the Crossroads League standings with a 3-1 win over Goshen on Wednesday.

The Lady Lancers (14-9, 6-5 CL) have now won six of their past seven matches and advanced into a three-way tie for third place in the league.

Grace leaned on the two-headed attack of Sierra Smith (14 kills) and Kelsee Zuidema (13 kills) in the victory. Zuidema, who was named the NCCAA and CL Player of the Week earlier in the week, hit at a .458 percentage.

Alix Underwood was a major spark off the bench, hitting for eight kills on just 11 attempts, adding two block assists.

The Maple Leafs (9-11, 3-9 CL) pulled out a 25-21 win in the opening set as Grace struggled with nine errors.

Grace’s offense hit its stride in the second game, however. The Lady Lancers pounded out 19 kills for a 25-16 win. A block point from Tori Bontrager and Underwood secured the final point.

Grace held a small lead for much of the third set, eventually pulling ahead 19-13 on an ace by Bontrager. Marta Bleed’s kill earned the final point for Grace in a 25-20 win.

Although Grace again led for the majority of the fourth game, Goshen refused to go down easy. The Lady Lancers held a 22-18 advantage, but the Maple Leafs climbed back to within one at 23-22. Underwood then blasted a kill in the middle, and Bleed scored the last point again with a crosscourt hit.

Sara Miller led all players with 22 digs, and Kaitlin Kerrigan added five kills and 11 digs. Bontrager had one solo block and three block assists, Laken Chaney tallied 25 assists and two aces, and Taylor Baird finished with 20 assists and five digs.

The Lady Lancers get a break from the league season this weekend. Grace will travel to Davenport on Friday and Saturday for four matches.

Women’s Soccer Falters in NAIA Game of the Week

October 8th, 2015

Grace’s No. 8-ranked women’s soccer team tasted its first defeat of the season on Wednesday.

The Lady Lancers (10-1-1, 2-1-1 Crossroads League) lost 1-0 at No. 9 Spring Arbor in the NAIA Game of the Week.

The Cougars (10-2-1, 4-0 CL) kept pressure on Grace’s backline by firing shots at the Lady Lancers’ goal. Spring Arbor ended the match with a 21-6 advantage in shots.

The first half was scoreless. Each side could only manage four shots apiece before halftime, but neither team could find a breakthrough.

Grace’s best look of the half came when Meredith Hollar found space after a long pass from Mallory Rondeau. Her 21-yard shot under pressure was calmly saved by SAU. Kristelle Jadoo also took a shot in the final seconds from outside the box to no avail.

The Cougars ramped up their pressure in the second half. SAU tried 17 shots over the final 45 minutes, including seven corner kicks.

Spring Arbor broke through in the 53rd minute. SAU’s Bethany Balcer made a long run from midfield through Grace’s defense. She collected a loose ball in the penalty area and slotted in the only goal of the match.

Grace’s offense was limited to two shots after halftime. Rondeau tried a shot on the right side of the box that went wide, and Hollar fired off a hard shot at the top of the 18-yard line.

“This match needed a higher level of cleanness and composure from our team. We were good at times moving the ball effectively and created handfuls of dangerous sections,” said Grace head coach Michael Voss. “Our possession was generally predictable, which led to a physicality that was disruptive. On the day we needed to be more effective at being in possession and calm the sideways chaos. This match lived up to the hype. We expected the game to be forced into our defensive third with a wide variety of attempts at goal. SAU is good at what they do.”

Grace goalkeeper Abby Schue made 10 saves in a strong performance.

The Lady Lancers will take on another NAIA-ranked opponent on Saturday. Grace travels to No. 20 Mt. Vernon Nazarene for a 2 p.m. kickoff.

Late goal lifts Lancers Past Spring Arbor

October 8th, 2015

Pictured is freshman midfielder Collin Cape on Wednesday

An 85th minute goal from a seemingly impossible angle lifted Grace’s men’s soccer team to a 2-1 win over Spring Arbor on Wednesday.

Freshman Damon Binkley scored the dramatic late winner to keep the Lancers tied for first in the Crossroads League.

The Lancers (8-4, 3-1 CL) were knotted 1-1 entering the final minutes. A well-worked attack from Mitchell Zeilenga, Kyle Hamlin and Damon Binkley resulted in a shot from Zeilenga that deflected off the post. The loose ball hugged the right end line and stayed inbounds long enough for Binkley to reach it. The freshman forward then blasted his shot into the far netting to give Grace the win.

“We are very happy for the victory tonight. We still have room for improvement in key areas. We had several chances earlier that would have taken some of that pressure off us at the end,” said Grace head coach Matt Hotchkin. “We have a young team, but they are showing the ability to play against anybody. Spring Arbor is an athletic team, and I thought our guys matched them.”

Wednesday’s game with Spring Arbor produced 37 shots. The Cougars (6-5-2, 1-2-1 CL), who are receiving votes in the NAIA Top 25, had a 23-14 advantage in shots during the match. Only six of Spring Arbor’s shots were on goal, however.

The game started with a balance as each side took shots on goal. The Lancers’ best look in the opening 20 minutes came on a cross from Josiah Osborn, which Nikola Djordjevic headed high.

Spring Arbor opened the scoring in the 28th minute, finishing off a cross from the right side.

It took Grace less than 10 minutes to respond. Thomas Tydeman swiped a ball from the Cougars’ defense, then placed his shot past the charging goalkeeper at the 34:48 mark.

The match stayed tied 1-1 through halftime up until the final six minutes.

Binkley led Grace with four shots while Collin Cape added three. Daniel Smith and Hamlin each fired two shots.

Goalkeeper Robbie Barnhill picked up the win in goal for Grace, making five saves in 90 minutes.

“Now we prepare for another tough conference opponent on Saturday,” Hotchkin said. “The daily preparation has been really fun with this team. They are always willing to try new things.”

The Lancers will host Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Saturday at 7 p.m. to wrap up the week.

Men’s Tennis Marches onto CL Semifinals

October 7th, 2015

Grace’s men’s tennis team used a dominant doubles’ performance to top Taylor 6-3 on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Crossroads League Tournament.

The No. 4 seeded Lancers (6-4) won all three doubles’ points to advance to a matchup with regular-season league champion Marian on Thursday. The semifinal contest will take place in Indianapolis.

Although the Trojans (5-7) dropped all three matches during doubles’ competition, two of the matches were battles. Danila Kurkulin and Ethan Grove pulled out a 9-8 win at No. 1 doubles, and Adam Yoder and Caleb Yoder won 8-6 at No. 3. Uros Pajic and Gabe Vervynckt had the easiest route with an 8-1 victory at No. 2 doubles.

Grove went on to cruise 6-1, 6-2 at No. 3 singles, and Vervycnkt clinched the win by taking a 6-1, 6-4 decision at No. 5.

Adam Yoder had the final point for Grace at No. 6 singles with a three-set victory.

The Lancers are making their fifth straight appearance in the CL semifinals, producing a 2-2 record in that round over the past four years.

Grace vs. Spring Arbor to be NAIA Game of the Week

October 7th, 2015

Grace’s No. 8-ranked women’s soccer team will travel to No. 9 Spring Arbor on Wednesday 7 p.m. for the NAIA Game of the Week.

The NAIA Top 10 clash is a meeting of perennial Crossroads League powers. The Lady Lancers (10-0-1) are one of four undefeated teams remaining in the NAIA. Grace is off to its best start in program history under head coach Michael Voss.


Grace currently boasts the No. 4-ranked defense in the NAIA, surrendering just 0.45 goals/game. The Lady Lancers have beaten six teams already who were ranked or receiving votes in the NAIA Top 25.

Spring Arbor has yet to taste defeat in the league season, entering Wednesday’s match with a 9-2-1 record (3-0 CL). The Cougars have won 21 straight regular-season league matches, and they currently lead the NAIA with 26.1 shots/game.

Grace held at No. 8 in Tuesday’s edition of the NAIA poll – the squad’s 11th consecutive national ranking.

The Lady Lancers will also travel to No. 20 Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Saturday to round out a challenging week.

Schue Named League Defensive Player of the Week

October 6th, 2015

Grace goalkeeper Abby Schue picked up her fourth Crossroads League Defender of the Week award for the 2015 season on Monday.

Schue, a former Warsaw Tiger goalie, had two more shutouts last week for No. 8 Grace’s women’s soccer team. She made a combined 12 saves in 180 minutes in goal. Grace blanked St. Francis 3-0 and Huntington 2-0 to maintain an undefeated record of 10-0-1. The Lady Lancers are off to their best start in program history through 11 games and are one of just four undefeated teams left in the NAIA.

Schue’s seven shutouts on the season ranks No. 3 in the NAIA, and she has a goals against average/game of 0.45.

The Lady Lancers travel to No. 10 Spring Arbor on Wednesday 7 p.m. for a high-profile matchup.