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September 1, 2014

Comeback propels Spartans to season-opening win

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – If a fan took a look at the final statistics' sheet from Manchester University's non-conference match against Andrews University Monday, Sept. 1, they would be missing some of the picture.

A 48-2 total shots advantage, which included a 19-2 lead in shots on goal, nearly wasn't enough for the home-standing Spartans. Their 2014 season opener got off to a rocky start as the visiting Cardinals took advantage of a breakaway score just over six minutes in and then received some good fortune from an errant pass back to goal  by MU's defense that led to an own goal in the 20th minute for a 2-0 lead.

Freshman forward Nate Johnson (Portage, Ind.) got the home side on the scoreboard, much to the delight of the home crowd at Spartan Field, in the 23rd minute off a feed from sophomore midfielder Matthew Jordan (Zionsville, Ind.) to make it 2-1. Andrews kept the score there fending off challenge after challenge from MU thanks to a stout defense and some tough-luck shooting from the Black and Gold.

The Spartans' home crowd finally got back to its feet with the final 10 minutes of regulation winding down. A well-placed corner off the foot of senior midfielder Josh Collier (Anderson, Ind.) found senior forward Austin Finley (Kokomo, Ind.) flying towards the goal and was nudged past the Cardinals' keeper for a 2-2 tie with just over eight minutes left. The two sides went scoreless into overtime, but Johnson stepped to the forefront again just over three minutes in gliding a shot into the back of Andrews' net for the 3-2 win.

Fellow first-year forward Travis Richardson (Elizabethtown, Ind.) joined Johnson for a combined 17 shot attempts with a team-high 11. Senior midfielder Zac Hansen (Muskegon, Mich.) added six attempts.

Manchester University continues a three-match home stand to begin the 2014 season Friday and Saturday, Sept. 5 and 6. The annual Raven-Spartan Classic visits Spartan Field with MU taking on Blackburn College of Illinois at 4 p.m. Friday and Westminster College of Pennsylvania at 2 p.m. Saturday.

NOTES: Johnson's multi-goal effort was the first such for an MU player since October of 2012 … The victory was the Black and Gold's first in a season opener since the 2011 campaign.