Lady Lancers upend SAU in semifinals

SPRING ARBOR, Mich. – Grace’s women’s soccer team continued its march through the Crossroads League Tournament, taking down No. 24 Spring Arbor on Wednesday 2-1.

The Lady Lancers, the tournament’s No. 3 seed, beat the second-seeded Cougars (9-2-1) on their home turf thanks to a pair of first-half goals.

Grace will travel to top-seeded Marian for the championship game of the CL Tourney. The winner of that match will secure an automatic bid to the NAIA National Championships.

Grace shocked SAU early with a pair of goals, and the Lady Lancers (8-2-1) could have scored more as well.

In the early minutes, Alexis Larimore made a run to beat the Cougars’ backline, but her 1v1 shot was denied.

Sacia Hanson sparked Grace’s first goal with a dynamic pass in the seventh minute. The senior crossed a pass from the right side behind SAU’s defender. Victoria Lucido found herself all alone in front of goal and promptly beat the goalkeeper for a 1-0 lead.

Lucido had a role in the next goal as well. The midfielder stole the ball from an SAU defender and quickly passed ahead to Larimore. Larimore sped by her marker and sliced her shot into the back of the net at the 9:26 mark.

With 12 minutes remaining in the half, Grace almost found a third goal. Larimore, who was a constant nag on SAU’s backline, found space on a counterattack. She tried to pass to an open teammate in the penalty box, but her pass was deflected away at the last instant.

The Cougars were largely limited in their offensive opportunities. SAU had a few shots from outside the 18-yard line but few truly threatening moments.

Grace held SAU to just one shot attempt over the final 28 minutes of the opening half, and the Lady Lancers went into the intermission ahead 2-0.

The Cougars increased the physicality of the match in the second half, hoping to find a goal. SAU was given eight fouls and a yellow card after halftime.

Grace finally yielded a desperation goal in the 89th minute. SAU scored off a corner kick when Grace whiffed on what should have been a simple clearance.

The match was decided, however, as Grace secured the 2-1 victory.

Bethany Blackwood made five saves to earn the win in goal.