The Lancers went ahead 3-0 in the second half and held off a late charge from the Trojans. The win moves the Lancers (5-2-4, 2-0-1 Crossroads League) into second place in the league standings, less than a game behind Spring Arbor for the lead.
“We had moments of good soccer today, and it’s always important to get a win in conference,” said Grace head coach Matt Hotchkin. “We had a great atmosphere to play in front of, so thanks to all the fans, alumni and friends for coming out to support us today.”
Damon Binkley set the tone for Grace’s offense to start the match. Binkley had three shots in the first three minutes and was set free several times from long passes by Joshua Coupar.
Grace was patient in its attack and had control of the ball for the majority of the first half. The Lancers’ speed began to gave Taylor fits, eventually leading to the first goal.
The Lancers produced several shots in the penalty box that were blocked, including a close-range blast from Togo Narusawa which was saved.
The game’s opening goal came in the 35th minute. Narusawa placed a looping pass behind Taylor’s line. Cody Boerema was on the receiving end and deftly chipped his shot over the charging Trojan goalkeeper.
For the half, Grace held a dominant 11-1 shot advantage. The Lancers had four shots on goal and seven corner kicks before halftime.
Shortly into the second half, Grace’s lead doubled. Boerema took on a few defenders and unleashed a shot at Taylor’s goal. The shot was saved, but it fell to the feet of Nikola Djordjevic who blasted his rebound just below the crossbar in the 49th minute.
A similar play occurred in the 62nd minute. Breno Oliveira tried a low shot from the edge of the box that was blocked by Taylor’s goalkeeper, and Binkley finished off the loose ball from just in front of the net.
Grace’s momentum nearly produced a fourth and fifth goal. Ulisses Miranda had a one-on-one opportunity with Taylor saved, and Narusawa had a goal called off due to being offside.
The Trojans (4-4-2, 0-3 CL) made things interesting in the final minutes. Taylor scored its first goal in the 76th minute by heading in a cross.
Grace surrendered a second goal with 4:14 remaining after a well-placed corner kick from Taylor created another goal. But neither team was able to take another shot for the final minutes, letting Grace hold onto the tight victory.
“Giving up those two goals in the last 10 minutes was frustrating. Our guys thought the ball clearly went out of bounds on the first goal, so that is unfortunate, but we have to roll with the punches and make up for those situations,” Hotchkin said. “Their second goal off the corner bent so badly in the wind that we just misjudged it. Our focus is on one game at a time, and we will look to improve for Wednesday.”
Miranda had five shots to lead all players, and Narusawa and Binkley each shot four times.
The win marks the third straight Grace victory on Homecoming, including men’s soccer against Indiana Wesleyan in 2015 and women soccer against Bethel in 2016.
The Lancers remain home on Wednesday, hosting Indiana Wesleyan at 7 p.m. at 1st Source Bank Field.