Grace women’s soccer wins NCCAA opener

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Grace’s women’s soccer team began the 2020 NCCAA National Championships with a 3-0 rout of Warner on Tuesday.

The Lady Lancers were victorious in the first match of pool play, putting themselves in ripe position for a championship match appearance.

If Grace wins again on Thursday, the Lady Lancers will earn a spot in the national championship game. Grace will face off with Erskine on Thursday at 5 p.m. to end pool play.

Grace wasted little time threatening the Royals (6-8) on Tuesday. Three minutes into the match, Victoria Lucido tried a long shot which bounced off the crossbar.

The Lady Lancers (9-3-1) did not have to wait long to find a goal. Alexis Larimore led a dangerous run through the middle of Warner’s defense. She passed to her right to an open Sacia Hanson.

Hanson returned the favor with a centralizing pass to Larimore, who scored the simple tap-in from close range.

Grace continued to harass Warner’s backline throughout the half, peppering the Royals’ goal with eight shots and two corner kicks before halftime.

JJ Aalbue created Grace’s second goal in the 31st minute. The sophomore shot a rocket inside the right side of the penalty box, giving the goalkeeper no chance as the ball sizzled into the back of the bet.

Two minutes before halftime, Grace struck again. Freshman Tori Calizo found Danae Moriarty, and Moriarty placed a left-footed shot inside the far post for a 3-0 lead. It marked the first collegiate points (goal or assist) by both Calizo and Moriarty.

In the second half, Grace eased up offensively with the win essentially secured during the first half.

Grace still tried 10 shots in the second half, but no more goals were to be scored.

The Lady Lancers used their bench liberally to gain much-needed rest. Grace played two matches last week in the Crossroads League Tournament and hopes to play two more this week if the championship match can be reached.

Bethany Blackwood made three saves to record the win in goal, and she was defended well by Anna Kuhl, Brooke Kohler, Amber Meade and Erin Crew.

Aalbue shot seven times to lead all players, and Lucido shot three times.

The Lady Lancers outshot Warner 18-3 with 12 of those shots being on goal.