NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – One couldn't blame Manchester University's team or its head coach Andy Stout for being in a celebratory mode Saturday, Oct. 12.
After all, the Spartans' 2-1 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference victory over Transylvania University was a bit historic. MU hadn't toppled the league opponent in eight previous regular season meetings.
"This is an absolutely huge win," Stout said. "Our team has lofty goals for the season … a result like this is a big step towards those. We came in with the utmost respect (for Transylvania) and what they can do. They are a good squad, so we are very excited with the outcome."
Manchester University, concluding a 2-0 week, took a quick start against the visiting Pioneers. Firing off seven of the match's first 10 shots, the Black and Gold (6-6-1, 2-1 HCAC) got one through in the 13th minute. With the offense setting up near the TU box, junior defender/midfielder Diane McAfee (Fort Wayne, Ind.) centered a pass that sophomore forward Brandy Crouse (Cleves, Ohio) sent to the right of TU keeper Jerrica Scovel for a 1-0 lead.
The visitors picked up momentum late in the first half, finally breaking through on a lofted shot by sophomore Erin Marek in the 41st minute. Marek's strike tucked itself in the upper right hand corner of the net just past the reach of Spartans' junior goalkeeper Emily Willmann (Montpelier, Ind.).
"We told the team at halftime that we needed to continue to maintain focus and keep working hard," Stout said. "Our players did that, especially on defense, and managed some good offensive chances, one of which we converted."
The eventual winning score occurred just over 12 minutes after halftime. Sophomore midfielder Allison Rowe (La Quinta, Calif.) took a well-place corner kick from the foot of junior midfielder Amber Oster (Fountaintown, Ind.) and sent it into the back of the net. Rowe's second goal of the season sent the crowd at Spartan Field cheering, as MU held a 2-1 lead. The Spartans managed to hold on, keeping level with Transylvania's offense shots wise (11-11), while Willmann turned away four more Pioneer shot attempts.
MU, sitting fourth on the league standings in the midst of six teams separated by only two matches, heads into a home and away week with a trip to Defiance College of Ohio Tuesday, Oct. 15. Kickoff is 2 p.m.
"We'll enjoy this win for now but be ready to go back to work Monday," Stout said. "Defiance will present us with some challenges just as every league school does."
NOTES: Crouse's recent hot streak continued Saturday. It was the third successive and fourth match in the last six which she's tallied a goal … Rowe became the fourth MU player to tally a game-winning goal. She joined junior forward Katelyn Barta (Griffith, Ind.), junior midfielder Sofie Tzortzinis (ann Arbor, Mich.) and Crouse in the category.