After handling Lincoln Christian in the first round of regional play with a 7-0 victory the Lady Tigers sought to even the score against the defending national runner-up Maranatha Baptist. Earlier in the year the Crusaders defeated the Tigers 2-0.
On a neutral pitch with a strong wind both teams looked to take advantage of their strength. Maranatha with their speed and Grace with their tactics. In game adjustments were plenty as both teams looked for the tactical advantage during the first half. Grace with the wind at their backs were unable to capitalize during the first frame as the gusts kept pushing the ball just out of reach on their slot passes. Debbie Pekel continued to be the focus of the Crusader defense often times drawing 4 defenders when moving into scoring position. Defensively Grace was able to overcome the first few rushes of MBBC and make some adjustments which stalled the Crusader attack altogether. After a hard fought 45 minutes the teams were deadlocked with possession time and attacks evening out towards the end after a strong start by MBBC.
The second half kicked off with the same intensity the first ended with. Quickly making it apparent the game would be low scoring and decided on the details of the game rather than the larger tactical schemes. The teams were even, the coaches were even and the ladies from both sides were pouring themselves into the match. Maranatha caught a break on an unfortunate bounce quarter way through the 2nd half. Two Grace defenders closed in to trap a ball as it bounced just out of reach leaving a Crusader the chance for a nice finish on the far side to beat the all-region keeper Lindsey Anible.
Grace would do everything in their power to counter the goal. Switching players around and moving into an ever increasing high pressure system. As the Tigers continued to press and control the pace and attacks for the better part of the last 25 minutes they were able to create several quality scoring chances. No chance was better than an open netter from 15 yards out that was placed harmlessly over the crossbar. Time and time again the Tiger rush would press the Crash against the Crusader defense in the final minutes of the game. When the final whistle sounded both teams running on empty the Crusaders were able to outlast the Tigers in one of the best games in the short history of the rivalry.
“This one is hard to swallow, but MBBC deserved the win.” Said Coach Rumenapp, “Our girls left it all out on the field and I cannot ask for anything more than that. I am extremely proud of them and the season they had. Looking at where we are as a team now, compared to August when we first came out, the improvement is staggering. I could not ask for a better group of young ladies to coach. All season long they have done everything we have asked of them and worked hard and played this game as an act of worship.”
The Lady Tigers traveled out to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to play their final regular season match against Mount Mary.
The Lady Tigers controlled the pace of the game from the opening whistle dominating the possession battle as well as the shots on goal. Despite the lopsided shots and possession the Tigers were unable to find the back of the net missing on several golden opportunities until the midway point of the first half. Once the first goal found the back of the net the Tigers kept the pressure up and quickly added several more taking a commanding 6-0 lead into the half. In the second half the Lady Tigers were able to work on some different tactics and ball movement while still trying to stay disciplined. When the Final whistle blew the Tigers finished with 9 goals on 21 shots on frame and 41 total shots, while Mount Mary managed just 4 shots on frame. Eight different players scored for the Grace including Samantha Toller who was able to find the back of the net for the first time of her career, assisted by her roommate, Megan Israels.
“I thought we had good thoughts out there today.” Said Coach Rumenapp, “We need to execute those thoughts quicker and more efficiently in the future, but overall, I think we were intentional with what we tried to do and that shows some maturity on our teams part.”
The Lady Tigers of Grace Bible traveled out to Houghton Michigan to take on the Lions of Finlandia University over the weekend. In a game which saw two contrasting styles of play, the Lions with the physicality and the Tigers with their finesse, it was the Tigers who came out on top. After being up 2-0 at half time the lady Tigers really came out strong in the 2nd frame adding 5 more to their tally and finishing the game 7-0. Scoring for the Tigers was Kerie Rudd (3), Debbie Pekel (2), Courtney Glinka (1) and Destiny Banasihan (1). Autumn Befus lead the Tigers in assists with 3.
“I felt we executed much better in the 2nd half.” Said Coach Rumenapp, “We were much more disciplined with the ball and implemented some tweaks we have been focusing on in practice. I hope we continue to play with a similar sense of purpose next week when we conclude our regular season in Milwaukee against Mount Mary.”
On a chilly Wednesday Evening the Tigers traveled to Berrien Springs to compete against the Andrew’s University Cardinals. After going scoreless in the past 4 games the Lady Tigers were finally able to break the drought in early in the first half off the foot of Jessica Pegg (sophomore) who netted her first goal of the season. Freshman Debbie Pekel was able to add to the Tiger total int he first frame beating the keeper from distance to push the scoreline to 2-0. The Cardinals were able to draw a PK and finish it to bring the game back within reach. At the break the Tigers led 2-1.
In the second half Grace took control of the game from the opening whistle and would not relinquish it. Debbie Pekel was able to find the back of the net twice more to bring her season total to 19 goals. Also scoring for the Tigers in the second half was Kerie Rudd (Senior), Autumn Befus (Freshman), Courtney Glinka (Sophomore) and April Phillipi (Freshman). The final score would read Lady Tigers 8 Lady Cardinals 1. Grace was able to assist on 6 of their 8 goals with the only unassisted goal being a PK. Setting up the goals were Autumn Befus, Destiny Banasihan (Junior), Courtney Glinka, Debbie Pekel, Jamie Hanna (Freshman), and Lindsey Anible (Freshman).
The men’s team also made the trip and came away with a dominant 4-0 win themselves. Both teams leave Thursday morning for a trip through the UP to face Finlandia University on Friday (The men also play Northland International University on Saturday).
Playing their first game in 9 days the Tiger’s faced their toughest opponent of the season last night in Cornerstone University.
Despite the long lay off the Tigers came out strong and performed very well in the first half keeping the score 0-1 for the majority of the period. With :37 left in the half the Golden Eagles were able to find the back of the net again and go into the break up 2-0. The second half was all Cornerstone. Scoring 3 times in the first 5 minutes the Golden Eagles were able to take a commanding 5-0 lead. Grace would prove unable to recover and get anything going on the offensive side of the ball as the final tally would read 7-0 in favor of the Golden Eagles.
“I thought we did pretty well int he first half with the exception of the second goal.” Said Coach Rumenapp. “The Second half we just did not play smart out the gate. We made some mental mistakes and Cornerstone was able to capitalize on them. We now know what we need to focus on in practice to continue to prepare for our regional tournament and more short-term Andrews University on Wednesday evening. We will be ready.”
In Watertown Wisconsin the match up between 2 top 10 teams for regional supremacy was called short due to lightning strikes. With enough of the game elapsed Maranatha was awarded a 2-0 victory over the Lady Tigers.
From the first blast of the whistle it was clear both sides had talent. The possession battle waged back and forth up and down the pitch. Neither team was able to assume absolute dominance. The Crusaders did enjoy a larger portion of the scoring chances leading the Tigers 9-1 in the shot department at halftime. They also had the half’s only goal, when a ball played over the middle was misplayed by a Grace defender and ran onto by the Crusaders. The striker was then able to calmly slide the ball under Tiger keeper Lindsey Anible.
The second half saw the Tigers come out much stronger. Battling the rain and a ominous sky Grace tried to find an equalizer. Their efforts would come up short as the crusaders once again were able to run onto a ball and beat Lindsey increasing the score to 2-0. Immediately after the goal the whistle sounded halting the game due to lightning strikes in the area. With thick cloud cover and dusk quickly approaching the game would prove unable to resume granting the Crusaders a key 2-0 victory and a BYE in the first round of the regional tournament.
“We knew coming in that we needed to play one of our best games of the season to win,” said Coach Rumenapp, “obviously that did not happen. We had a long week including 2 games prior to this one, the flu and some injuries flaring up, end of the day those are all just excuses. Bottom line, Maranatha outplayed us and deserved the result they received. We look forward potentially playing them in regionals.”
After 110 minutes of play the Tigers and the Muskies of Lakeland College walked off the field with the scoreboard reading the same as it had to start the match.
The match was even from start to finish. Neither team was able to maintain the upper hand for very long as the Tigers and Muskies took turns creating chances. In the end neither team was able to find the back of the net. Both teams were able to amass a number of quality scoring opportunities, with each team ringing a shot off the post throughout the contest.
“For the first time in 3 or 4 games we did not concede a goal in the first 5 minutes of the game.” Said Coach Rumenapp, “I am very pleased about that. Overall, we played probably our most complete and consistent game of the season. There are some things we can improve on for tomorrows match against Maranatha, but overall we didn’t have any glaring mishaps or issues. Coach Scott and I are very pleased with how we played tonight, sometimes you just struggle to find the net.”
For the 3rd time in as many games the Lady Tigers conceded a goal within the first 5 minutes of the game. This time, however, there would be no overtime thriller or second half heroics. The first half would be all about the Mustangs as Marygrove College ended the half with a commanding 5-0 lead. They would add 2 more in the second to end the tally at 7-0.
“Obviously this was not our best effort of the season, but they the ladies toughed it out and finished with a decent second half for what they were facing.” Said Coach Rumenapp. “Marygrove has a very solid squad and see tough competition all year long being in the WHAC. Unfortunately, for us, our team was hit with the flu and injuries at the same time. We had 2 starters come out in the first 10 minutes of the game because they could not get certain nagging injuries to loosen up properly. Coupled with 4 ladies who spent the whole of the night before being sick, it was not a good combination. We were unable to match our recent intensity and that of Marygrove. They outworked us and deserved the result they got.”
Friday evening saw the Lady Tigers walk onto Velting Field for their last home game of the season. For seniors Kerie Rudd and Erin Befus it would be the last time of their careers. “Before the game we challenged the ladies to give Kerie and Erin a good farewell game. The two of them have been with the program since its inaugural season 4 years ago.” Said Coach Rumenapp.
The game did not start off in favor of the Tigers, as Brescia University opened the in the 4th minute of the match. After the initial goal the Tigers were able to settle in and adapt to the speed of the bearcats upfront. Down 1-0 at the break the Lady Tigers looked to regain their form and command the 2nd half.
Once again the half did not begin favorable as the Lady Tigers conceded their second goal of the match within 5 minutes of the whistle. Facing a 2-0 deficit the Tigers found themselves in a position they have not been able to claw out of all season. “Early in the season I do not think we had the maturity to dig down and mount a comeback.” Stated Coach Rumenapp.
However, these are not the same inexperienced Lady Tigers as the beginning of the season. Courtney Glinka was able to spring Debbie Pekel on a throw-in for a 1 on 1 opportunity with the keeper. Debbie was able to perfectly place a nice left footed shot to the back corner of the net for her 13 goal of the season. Courtney and Debbie were not finished yet as they connected shortly later. Glinka was able to find Pekel at the top of the 18 and one move later Debbie was able to finish with her right foot this time to tie the game with just under 30 minutes to go.
Back and forth the action would go with neither team being able to find the decided goal for near 20 minutes until the Tigers were able to strike again. This time it was Debbie Pekel connecting with Autumn Befus, who played a nice first touch past a defender to herself and finished with a cool right foot to give the Tigers their first lead of the game with under 10 minutes to go in the contest. At the final whistle that would be the final score with Autumn Befus getting credit for her second straight deciding goal.
“This win was a team effort.” Said Coach Rumenapp after the game, “The ladies continue to mature and proved once again what trust and belief in your teammates can accomplish. They were able to overcome a slow start and pull together as a team for the win. Once again Kerie Rudd was stellar in the back and really held it together for us on the back line. She will be sorely missed next season.”
The Lady Tigers sought to keep their momentum going on Tuesday evening in Bluffton, Ohio where they traveled to compete against the Bluffton University Beavers. With both teams holding victories against Ohio Christian University and Andrews University, the match had potential to be a classic. It would not disappoint.
Tigers win 2-1 in the 103rd minute
Bluffton came out strong against the Lady Tigers drawing first blood in just the 2nd minute of the game. After a nice set of passes to build the attack up the Beavers found Jo Bondra, junior, at the top of the 18 for a laser shot finding the back of the net. During the next 15 minutes the Tigers saw both Courtney Glinka and Debbie Pekel leave the pitch after big collisions. Anchored by freshman keeper Lindsey Anible the Grace defense were able to survive the 1st half and regroup at the whistle being down only 1-0.
In the 2nd half both teams came out strong. The Tigers were able to solve the Beaver attack and limit the number of quality shots Bluffton had.In the 53rd minute Autumn Befus looked to have a clean break at the net before being taken down by he Bluffton keeper. No caution was awarded. On the Ensuring free kick Kerie Rudd was able to beat the Beaver keeper from 30+ out to draw the Tigers even at 1-1. On the shoulders of a strong back 4 (Maggie McCann, Jamie Hanna, Kerie Rudd and Lauren Olsen) they were able to force the Beavers to take 17 shots with only 9 being on frame, and most from favorable positions. The whistle blew at the end of 90 minutes with the score even at 1-1. Two 10 minute golden goal overtime periods would be issued to try and unknot the score.
Grace came out determined not to concede another goal in extra time. Bluffton came out hard and physical, but was unable to solve Lindsey Anible and the Tiger defense. After not having a shot in the first period of extra time, the Tigers had a promising counter attack in the 103 minute. The ball was played to a hobbled Debbie Pekel who was able to find Autumn Befus at the top of the 18 only to have her initial attempt thwarted by the Bluffton Keeper. Staying on the ball Autumn tried to head it in the net, but was denied yet again by physical play the Beaver defense. On the third attempt Autumn was able to leave her feet and touch the ball over the goal line while being dragged down by a defender ending the game in Hollywood worthy fashion.
“The ladies showed us something today,” said Coach Rumenapp, “They were able to overcome a lot of diversity and injuries to pull out a close game against a very tough opponent. The ladies told me after the first goal that they were going to pull it out. When they came over to the bench at the end of regulation the looks in their eyes showed belief and determination. There was a toughness and intensity I had not seen from them before in their looks and how they carried themselves. There was nothing for us to say or do as coaches besides tell them ‘finish what you started.’ They took it from there. This is the best game I have been a part of in my 7 years of being involved with Grace soccer. I could not be more proud of the ladies. They fought hard and deserved it.”
Game notes: Lindsey Anible had a career high 23 saves including 101 straight minutes of shut out soccer. Jamie Hanna, Kerie Rudd, Lauren Olsen and Maggie McCann played by far their best game as a defensive unit in front of her.
- Tigers win 2-1 in the 103rd minute