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Second half rally buoys Spartans

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Fighting off a strong challenge from Earlham College Saturday, Oct. 19, Manchester University managed to extend its win streak to four with a 2-1 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference win.

MU's effective one-two punch of junior forward Katelyn Barta (Griffith, Ind.) and sophomore forward Brandy Crouse (Cleves, Ohio) helped turn the tables for the Spartans (8-6-1 overall, 4-1 HCAC). Crouse got a hold of a loose ball amidst a rugby scrum less than five minutes into the second stanza and struck her seventh goal of the season, while Barta, continuing an impressive junior slate, registered her 10th overall and fourth game-winning score in the 61st minute off a rebound from a shot just outside the box off the foot junior midfielder Amber Kent (Fountaintown, Ind.).

The hosts, celebrating Senior Day 2013 in front of a good home crowd, out-shot the visitors 10-3 in the final 45 minutes. Barta (three), Crouse (two) and junior midfielder Sofie Tzortzinis (Ann Arbor, Mich.) (two) each totaled multiple-shot efforts.

The visiting Quakers (1-9-2 overall, 0-4-1 HCAC) tested the Spartans' defense throughout the opening frame, pushing the ball up Spartan Field often. Junior midfielder Betty Alemu drove a shot from midfield near the box that freshman midfielder Abby McCullough took on her foot and got past Black and Gold junior goalkeeper Emily Willmann (Montpelier, Ind.) in the 30th minute for a 1-0 lead that Earlham held into halftime.

EC flirted with similar chances later in the half and had an opportunity in the final five minutes, as senior goalkeeper Annie Frodeman, moving into the offensive end, took a corner kick and headed it towards the right side of the net. However, Willmann dove and knocked the ball away to preserve the victory for one of two saves on the day.

The Spartans continue a brief two-match home stand Tuesday, Oct. 22. Bluffton University of Ohio visits for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.

NOTES:  MU's current win skein is the longest for the program since the 2008 squad reeled off a similar roll … Barta's 10 goals are the first double-figure effort in a season for the Black and Gold since former standout Paige Koomler scored 12 in 2008 … The win helped Manchester University keep pace with lone league unbeaten Hanover on the HCAC standings. The Panthers (4-0-1) own a half-game edge on Rose-Hulman and the Spartans, both of whom are 4-1, with Transylvania lurking at 3-1-1.