Historic Night Highlights Grace’s New Soccer Stadium
An estimated 1,200 fans packed the newly renovated Miller Athletic Complex on Friday night to take in a historic night for Grace Athletics.
The men’s and women’s soccer teams for Grace enjoyed their first taste of soccer under the lights at Miller Field in a pair of night-time exhibition matches. Along with the stadium lights, the new-look stadium debuted bleacher seating, scoreboard, team dugouts, press box and entryway for a standing-room only crowd.
A pregame ceremony led by Grace athletic director Chad Briscoe officially opened the new stadium. Grace soccer coaches Matt Hotchkin and Michael Voss along with their families and Grace board member Kip Cone turned on the lights for the public for the first time to cap off the prematch festivities.
The men’s game saw the Lancers pull out a 2-0 exhibition victory over club team F.C. Indiana. Austin Altimus was credited with a goal and an assist in the second half to propel the Lancers to an opening win.
Altimus crossed a dangerous ball into the path of freshman Zack Tucker and a Lion defender, and Tucker’s pressure and positioning paid off with a ricochet into the net from close range in the 60th minute.
In the 84th minute, Altimus received a low cross in the penalty box from Gift Sibukome. Altimus made a quick turn and rifled his shot past the goalkeeper to complete an impressive performance. Sibukome also rattled the crossbar with a blast in the opening half.
The women’s match featured the Lady Lancers against the Haiti Women’s National Team, currently No. 56 in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Rankings. Haiti, who is in the midst of a qualifying run toward the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, produced two quick goals to start the match. Grace responded patiently to build its possession-based attack.
Haiti finished a loose ball in the penalty box for the team’s third goal midway into the second half, but Grace responded with its second international goal in program history. Jordan Hairgrove and Mallory Rondeau linked up for a nifty combination play, resulting in Rondeau beating Haiti’s goalkeeper late with 10 minutes remaining in the contest. Haiti tacked on a fourth goal in the final minutes, producing the final 4-1 scoreline.
In addition to the estimated 1,200 fans in attendance on Friday night, over 650 viewers joined the historic night via Grace’s live video broadcast, which was featured on www.GCLancers.com/watch.