NCCAA Nationals Championship

   by Josh Neuhart

Grace’s women’s soccer team wrote a thrilling final chapter in their outstanding 2012 campaign with a late game winner in the third-place game of the NCCAA National Championships.

Holly Bennett headed home a cross from Mallory Rondeau with 1:17 to play against Trevecca Nazarene as the Lady Lancers earned their highest finish at NCCAA Nationals in team history.

With a final record of 17-5-3, Grace can officially stamp the 2012 season as the best in program history in terms of both total wins and winning percentage.

Grace dominated possession throughout the first half, holding a 7-0 advantage in shot attempts.

The Lady Lancers increased their attack late in the first half, resulting in hard shots from Bennett and Carianne Sobey. But the Trojans’ defense held Grace without a first-half goal.

Trevecca Nazarene evened out the play in the second half but still managed just two shot attempts.

Grace nearly scored the first goal midway into the second half on a counterattack. Rondeau played a great ball to Sobey in the penalty box, but the Trojans’ goalkeeper charged out to stab away Sobey’s shot.

In the final minutes, Grace turned up the pressure, where Rondeau found space on the left to loft a well-placed cross into the box. Bennett rose above her defender to head in the game-winning goal with 77 seconds remaining.

Overall, Grace held a dominant 12-2 advantage in shot attempts. Bennett and Rondeau led all players with three shots apiece, and Heather Martin attempted two shots. Carmen Barnhill recorded the shutout in goal for the Lady Lancers, although she wasn’t required to make a save.

The win ends the careers of Grace’s fine senior class of Jocelyn Evans, Abigail Burns, Kristin Yocum and Ryann Casciari. The pair went to an unprecedented three NCCAA National Championships during their four seasons, racking up All-League and All-American individual awards in the process.