The Lady Lancers earned their third-straight trip to NCCAA Nationals under head coach Michael Voss with a 2-0 victory over Cedarville on Saturday in the NCCAA Midwest Regional Championship.
Grace used second-half goals from sophomores Meghan Wiles and Mallory Rondeau to knock off the Yellow Jackets (15-7) at Miller Field.
“The women came together today and implemented the tactic we were going for today. They did well in the style we were trying to play,” Voss said. “We’re stoked to be able to go back to Florida. It’s a fantastic tournament that fits our mission. This year’s tournament should be very competitive as well, which is exciting.”
The first half of action was a stalemate with each team claiming a handful of scoring chances. Grace had a 5-4 advantage in shots while the Yellow Jackets had more corner kicks (3-1).
The Lady Lancers (11-6-2) had a number of strong crosses into the box, but they failed to deliver the finishing strike. Grace also had an appeal for a penalty kick waved off by the official when Holly Bennett appeared to be tripped in the penalty area in the final minutes of the half.
It took Grace less than 10 minutes of the second half to find the game-winning goal. Meghan Wiles took aim from well beyond the 18-yard line, and her shot squeezed just beneath the crossbar and above the outstretched fingers of Cedarville’s goalkeeper at the 52:22 mark.
Grace’s goal seemed to deflate Cedarville. The Yellow Jackets were held to just three shots in the second half as the Lady Lancers’ possession controlled much of the final 45 minutes.
With less than two minutes remaining, Grace found the insurance goal it needed from Mallory Rondeau. Carianne Sobey sent Rondeau on a long run down the right side of the field. Rondeau shielded off one defender along the endline and then blasted a right-footed shot off the goalkeeper and into the net from a near-impossible angle.
Overall for the game, Grace outshot Cedarville 12-7 to go along with a 5-3 advantage in corner kicks. Carmen Barnhill registered the shutout with four saves in 90 minutes, and Heather Martin, Faith Voehringer, Jalisa Thayer and Erica Manchess provided Barnhill support in defense.
For updates on the 2013 NCCAA National Championships, including Grace’s opponents, game times, live coverage links and more, check back on GCLancers.com over the next week. The tournament will be held in the first week of December in Kissimmee, Fla.