Archive for the ‘Feature Stories’ Category

Grace Spikers Top Goshen, Jump into Third Place

Thursday, 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

Thursday, 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

Thursday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Tuesday, 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.

Grace Spikers Claim Weekly League Honors

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

A pair of Grace volleyball players were honored by the Crossroads League on Monday.

Sara Miller was named the league’s Defender of the Week while Kelsee Zuidema was the Attacker of the Week following strong performances.

Grace went on the road to beat Bethel in four sets on Wednesday, thanks in large part to Miller and Zuidema. Miller did not make a mistake in Grace’s win against Bethel. She had 23 digs, made 17 pass receptions without an error and was perfect in 14 serves — even adding two aces. She has topped 20 digs in five of her past eight matches.

Zuidema pounded out 15 kills on just 25 attempts for a .520 percentage, leading Grace offensively. She also added 6 digs, 4 service aces and 3 block assists in a well-rounded effort.

The Lady Lancers host Goshen on Wednesday 7 p.m. at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center. Grace has won five of its past six CL matches.

Seniors Score Twice on Senior Night

Sunday, October 4th, 2015
Pictured is Grace senior Mallory Rondeau firing her first-half goal against Huntington on Saturday

No. 8 Grace’s women’s soccer team continued its unbeaten streak to start the year, defeating Huntington 2-0 on Saturday.

Two seniors scored and another had an assist to propel the Lady Lancers (10-0-1, 2-0-1 Crossroads League) on Senior Night at Miller Athletic Complex.

Despite taking 20 shots and 12 shots on goal in the match, Grace’s scoring was all done in an 18-minute span in the first half.

Mallory Rondeau opened the scoring in the 12th minute. The senior forward made a sneaky run to fool Huntington’s defense, beating two defenders and the Foresters’ goalkeeper to a loose ball and passing her shot into an empty net.

A nice run from Rondeau nearly produced a second goal minutes later. Her hard shot rebounded inside the penalty box and fell to the feet of Darcy Johnston, and Johnston’s shot forced a diving save by the Foresters (6-6, 0-3 CL).

Huntington nearly equalized in the 20th minute. A long shot by the Foresters took a deflection, and Grace goalkeeper Abby Schue slipped on the soaked turf. The shot rolled wide of the goalpost, however, preventing an unlikely equalizer.

In the 29th minute, Grace found an insurance goal. Carianne Sobey beat a defender on the left endline and squared a pass to Jordan Hairgrove, and the senior had a simple finish in front of the goal at the 28:39 mark. Sobey’s assist was the 42nd of her career, extending her program record for most assists.

The half ended 2-0 in Grace’s favor. The Lady Lancers had a 13-5 advantage in shot attempts.

Huntington stepped up its attack in the beginning stages of the second half, but Grace’s defense held firm. The Lady Lancers recorded their second straight shutout and seventh shutout of the year. Schue made nine saves in goal for Grace in 90 minutes.

Grace had a 20-12 advantage in shot attempts. Rondeau fired seven shots with five being on goal.

“We had a decent showing today on Senior Night. We were composed and creative executing our game plan well,” said Grace head coach Michael Voss. “The chance creation was creative and calculated. In general we just need to be sharper. The whole crew stayed the course this evening, and I’m proud of the women for that.”

The Lady Lancers face one of the biggest matchups of their season on Wednesday. Grace travels to No. 10 Spring Arbor on Wednesday night for an NAIA Top-10 rivalry game.

Harris’s Bicycle Goal not Enough Against Huntington

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

An acrobatic bicycle-kick goal from Dominic Harris was not enough to save Grace’s men’s soccer team from defeat on Saturday.

The Lancers (7-4, 2-1 Crossroads League) suffered their first loss of the league season, falling to Huntington 2-1 on the road.

Grace outshot the Foresters (6-5-1, 1-2 CL) 26-15 in the match, but Huntington made their shots count.

The opening half was scoreless despite a combined 16 shot attempts. The Lancers tried 11 shots in the first 45 minutes, but none found the back of the net. Grace also had a commanding 8-2 advantage in corner kicks, but each attempt went for naught.

Huntington pulled ahead less than 10 minutes into the second half, taking a 1-0 lead in the 52nd minute.

In the 72nd minute, Grace was whistled for a foul in the penalty box. Huntington converted the penalty kick for a 2-0 lead.

The Lancers did their best to battle back. Grace took 15 shots in the second half, including eight on frame. Grace thought it had earned a PK of its own, but the Lancers’ penalty appeals were denied.

The breakthrough came too late for Grace. Dominic Harris trapped a high headed ball near the top of the box. After sensing some space, he attempted a bicycle kick. The ball looped high over the outstretched arms of the Foresters’ goalkeeper and into the back of the net at the 85th minute.

Harris’s magical moment proved to be too late, however. Grace was unable to find an equalizer before the final buzzer.

Grace had 11 more shots than Huntington in the match and also had eight more corner kicks. Harris had six shots to lead all players, and Kyle Hamlin and Nakilee Weni took three shots apiece.

“We had an opportunity to stay at the top of the conference, and we fell short. It’s not the end of the world, but we did miss a chance to prove some important things to ourselves. I felt like we controlled the game, but we fell short in the most important statistics. We need to regroup and refocus attention to the next match,” said Grace head coach Matt Hotchkin. “The officials had a major impact on this match. The PK call against us was questionable, and he also waived off what seemed to be an obvious PK for us against Damon.”

The Lancers welcome No. 24 Spring Arbor to Miller Athletic Complex on Wednesday.

Grace Runners Take on Huntington Invite

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

Grace’s cross country team got a preview of the Crossroads League Championships with a race at Huntington on Saturday.

The Lady Lancers placed fourth out of nine teams while the men were ninth out of 11 at the Huntington Invitational, ran at the same course as the CL Championships on Nov. 7.

Katelyn McCullough led all Grace runners with a fourth-place showing, ending the race in 19:34. Freshman sisters Ariel Arellano (20:26) and Raven Arellano (20:40) were second and third respectively for Grace, and Julia Neal crossed the finish line in 21:21.

Emma Mitchell, Karla Singer and Sarah Hoff also finished the race with sub-22 minute times. The ladies finished third among Crossroads League teams, beating out league foes Bethel, St. Francis and Goshen in the process.

“We had cool and windy conditions, but our ladies fought through it pretty well. Katelyn McCullough ran a very good race. Even though it wasn’t her best time, it might have been her best race when you factor in the weather and a fairly tough course,” said Grace coach Jeff Raymond. “I also want to compliment Julia Neal for her continued improvement and Sarah Hoff for a solid race after coming back from injury.”

The men’s team ran less than full strength as the team battled injuries. Only five players ran for the Lancers.

Joel Bertelsen had a strong race in 27:25 to finish in 13th place. Sam Hall was next in line for Grace in 28:41, and Tyler Houvener was not far behind in 28:54. Tim Drew (32:19) and Reid Fouty (33:36) completed Grace’s lineup.

“Joel [Bertelsen] went out with the leaders and remained in close contact throughout the race. I was very pleased that he was not afraid to run toward the front,” Raymond said. “We held out a few guys to protect some minor injuries which obviously affected our overall performance. We hope to be closer to full strength next week.”

The Lancers will travel north on Friday for the Bethel Invitational.