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.
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.