Grace slips in title match at No. 2 Knights

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The impressive run through the Crossroads League Tournament came up one half short for Grace’s women’s soccer team.

The No. 14 Lady Lancers lost 2-0 to No. 2 Marian in the tournament championship on Saturday. The Knights (14-1) scored two goals in the second half to secure the tournament title and the automatic bid to the NAIA National Championships.

The Lady Lancers (8-3-1) have a quick turnaround before their next postseason game. Grace will leave from Indianapolis tonight, traveling down to Kissimmee, Fla., for the 2020 NCCAA National Championships.

Grace will likely be a high seed in the tournament and is poised to have a pool play match on Monday.

Neither team could produce a shot for the first 12 minutes of Saturday’s championship bout.

Grace’s best chances came along the sideline. Sacia Hanson and Alexis Larimore proved dangerous with their speed, but Grace was unable to find a finishing pass to set up a goal.

Marian tried a bouncing shot — the first attempt of the match — 13 minutes into the game which was saved.

Five minutes later, Grace had its first attempts. Victoria Lucido tried a shot at the 18:00 mark which was blocked. Madison Tuma tried a shot on the rebound, but her effort was wide.

Late in the half, Grace’s possession seemed to take a toll on the Knights. Grace made a number of dangerous advances into Marian’s end of the turf, but Marian’s defense held tight.

The Knights tried one last free kick in the final minute of the half, but Grace goalkeeper Bethany Blackwood was in position for a clean save.

The match entered halftime deadlocked at 0-0. Marian had a slight 5-2 edge in shot attempts.

The Knights stunned Grace out of halftime. Marian raced down the field as soon as play resumed and scored on a direct, deflected attack for a 1-0 lead. The goal occurred 14 seconds into the second half.

Grace tried to respond immediately with a free kick. But Anna Kuhl’s long shot sailed a foot above the crossbar.

Four minutes later, Tuma fired a low drive that resulted in a diving save for Marian.

Grace earned another deep free kick nine minutes into the half, but the lofted cross was intercepted.

The Lady Lancers struggled to generate offense during the middle portions of the second half, and Marian found its insurance goal in the 77th minute. Grace made a mistake in its penalty box, and the Knights took advantage for a 2-0 lead.

Grace could not strike back down the stretch and lost by two to the top-seeded Knights.

Tuma led Grace with two shots. Lucido, Larimore and Kuhl also had a shot.