NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – The final week of the 2013 season opened with a thriller between Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference rivals Tuesday, Oct. 29.
Leaning on a sparkling effort from sophomore goalkeeper Craig Thacker (Lebanon, Ind.), the host Spartans gave conference top four Anderson University a strong 90-minute in a 2-1 defeat at Spartan Field. The crowd on hand had plenty to cheer about for the home side, as Thacker, facing a 31-8 shots disadvantage from the high-powered Ravens; offense, kept the Black and Gold (3-12-2 overall, 2-6 HCAC) In it to the end with 12 saves, a single-match personal career high.
After both keepers kept the first 45 minutes clean on the scoreboard, Anderson (9-9, 5-3) managed to break the deadlock in the 56th minute. Freshman midfielder Trent Barnhart powered a strike from just outside of the left side of the box that curved into the net. MU battled back less than 14 minutes later, as junior defender/midfielder Josh Collier (Anderson, Ind.) sent a corner kick into the middle that volleyed around and landed on the foot of sophomore defender/midfielder Drew Vergonet (Elkhart, Ind.). Vergonet slipped a shot into the left side of the net that eluded the visiting defense for a 1-1 tie. Anderson responded less than four minutes from the end, after turning away some strong Spartans' offensive attempts, with junior forward Todd Canal scoring his 15th goal of the season off a rebound in front of the home team's net.
Vergonet's second goal of the year moved him into a tie with junior forward/midfielder Loic Youth (Detroit, Mich.), junior midfielder Zac Hansen (Muskegon, Mich.) and sophomore midfielder Julio Luevano (Aguascalientes, Mexico) atop the Manchester University goals' chart. Defensively, Thacker's afternoon marked the third time this year he's earned double-figure saves.
MU closes its season Saturday, Nov. 2, with a 3:30 p.m. kickoff at HCAC-leading Rose-Hulman.