KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Grace’s women’s soccer team continued its postseason march with a 3-0 win over Erskine on Thursday.

With the win, Grace clinched the top spot in its pool at the 2020 NCCAA National Championships. The women’s bracket does not have a semifinal match, meaning Grace will advance directly to the national championship match on Saturday.

The Lady Lancers, in pursuit of the program’s first national championship, will take on NCAA Div. II foe Dallas Baptist in the finals on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

Victoria Lucido was a handful on Thursday. She had a part in all three of Grace’s scoring moments, including a goal and two assists.

The Lady Lancers (10-3-1) needed to win or tie to advance to the championship match. Grace made sure the win was secure by halftime.

After 13 minutes of action, Grace took the lead. Sacia Hanson made a dangerous advance for Grace along the left endline and crossed to the middle.

Lucido clipped the ball into open space, and Madison Tuma was first to the ball and drove her shot into the back of the net.

The second goal came just six minutes later. JJ Aalbue passed ahead to Lucido, who was sprinting through the middle of Erskine’s defense.

Lucido collected the pass and calmly scored directly in front of the goalkeeper for a 2-0 lead.

Before 30 minutes had expired, Grace expanded its lead to 3-0. Lucido and Aalbue connected in the middle to find space for an attack.

Aalbue found Hanson open on the right side of the field. Hanson, who was maneuvering on the right edge of the penalty box, lifted a high shot toward Erskine’s goal. The ball flew over the leaping goalie and into the far side of the net for an emphatic third and final goal.

Erskine was blanked for the rest of the match. Bethany Blackwood registered her eighth shutout in 14 matches after making four saves. Grace emptied its bench in the second half to save its legs for the championship bout on Saturday.

Nine different players registered a shot for Grace, led by two shots apiece from Adelee Gartner and Aalbue.

The Lady Lancers are making their second appearance in the NCCAA championship game after coming up short in a penalty shootout in 2014.


Grace men advance to Semifinals

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Grace's men's soccer team secured its spot in the national semifinals for the third straight year on Wednesday.

The Lancers defeated Carolina University 4-1 to win their pool at the NCCAA National Championships. Ulisses Miranda scored two goals in Grace's win.

Grace will take on Campbellsville on Friday in the NCCAA semifinals, a rematch of the 2019 semifinals in which Grace narrowly won 1-0.

The national championship match is scheduled for Saturday at 8 p.m. The other semifinal match features Bethel against Erskine.

The first 15 minutes of Wednesday's match saw each team make advances offensively, but the teams could not score early.

Grace struggled to clear the ball defensively in the 12th minute, and the Bruins made Grace pay. Carolina scored on a loose ball in the penalty box to take an early lead.

The Lancers responded with four unanswered goals to win the match.

Grace trailed for less than two minutes. Miranda took a shot at the top of the penalty box in the 14th minute. The ball was blocked but fell to the feet of Marcelo Talamas. Talamas sidestepped a defender and took aim with a low shot that snuck past the goalkeeper.

Carolina nearly retook the lead 18 minutes into the match, trying two challenging shots. But Joe Bowles made a pair of strong saves to keep the match tied.

Grace responded immediately and went ahead. Ze Maria Goncalves made a leading pass to Miranda behind Carolina's defenders. Miranda collected the pass, dribbled around the charging goalkeeper and slotted his shot into the back of the net.

Eight minutes later, Miranda struck again. Similar to the last goal, Goncalves sparked the play with a long, leading pass. Miranda used his speed and strength on the fast break to beat his defender, and he clinically placed his shot past the goalkeeper for a 3-1 lead.

The Bruins kept pace, equaling Grace with seven shot attempts in the first half. But the Lancers proved to be lethal while beating Carolina's offside trap.

In the second half, Grace continued to apply pressure on Carolina's defense. The Lancers peppered the Bruins' goal with 12 more shots after halftime, despite using a myriad of substitutes.

With 17 minutes remaining, Grace added an insurance goal. Mitchel Strawser curled a dangerous pass into the penalty box, and David Koch tried a diving header. Koch's shot was saved, but the rebound was scored by Blake Burns in front of goal.

The Lancers outshot the Bruins 19-12 in the match. Overall, 24 of Grace's players saw time in the match.

Grace wins opener at NCCAA Nationals

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Grace’s volleyball team began play at the 2020 NCCAA National Championships on Thursday.

The Lady Lancers split the first day, beating third-seed Mid-America Christian 3-1 before falling to No. 2 Bethel in the nightcap.

The Lady Lancers will end pool play on Friday morning. Grace plays Campbellsville at 11 a.m. (Eastern). The winner of that match will advance to the national semifinals on Friday evening.

Grace had to rally to beat Mid-America Christian in the first match on Thursday. The Lady Lancers started the match well by winning three of the first four points.

But Grace committed three service errors in the beginning stages, allowing the Evangels to remain close.

MACU tied the score at 11-11 and eventually took the lead. The Lady Lancers were unable to produce a lengthy run as MACU held on to win the opening set 25-20.

In the second set, Grace won the first two points but could not maintain the momentum. The Evangels won six of the next seven points to grab an early edge.

But the Lady Lancers rallied back with a 10-1 run, charging ahead 16-8 thanks to the strong hitting of Katie Swanson, Jenna Mueller and others.

MACU kept pressure on Grace, but the Lady Lancers maintained composure to win 25-22 to even the match.

The third set was Grace’s best offensively. The Lady Lancers had 16 kills on just five errors (.268 percentage) en route to a 25-19 win.

The fourth set started evenly with the score knotted 7-7. But Grace seized control, erupting on a 10-2 run to pull ahead by eight. Jenna Mueller had three kills during Grace’s spurt.

The Evangels made Grace sweat by scoring eight unanswered points, rallying to tie the game at 17-17. But Grace showed its resolve, converting late to win 25-23 and secure the match.

Mueller led Grace with 14 kills on a .393 percentage, and Jadyn Block added 10 kills, 3 digs and 2 solo blocks.

Gabbey Harrington added 43 assists, 5 kills and 9 digs, Swanson had eight kills, and Cassadi Colbert and Makaela Lochmueller each tallied seven kills.

Gina Novotny produced 20 digs, Grace Erwin had 18 digs and Brittany Baize chipped in 13 digs.

In the late match on Thursday, Grace fell to Bethel 3-0. The Pilots had 13 block points while hitting at a .280 percentage.

Grace’s offense had 42 kills on a .156 percentage, but the Lady Lancers could not overcome Bethel’s presence at the net.

The Lady Lancers dropped the opener 28-26 in extra points before falling 25-19 and 25-17.

Swanson led all players with 11 kills to go along with four digs, Lochmueller added nine kills and two block points, and Eakright, Mueller and Colbert each had six kills.

Harrington produced 36 assists and seven digs, Novotny dug up 14 balls, and Baize added 12 digs.