NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. - A gritty bunch of Manchester University Spartans turned in a signature moment Saturday, Oct. 14.
With a crowd of better than 200 fans hanging on every possession, shot attempt and save over more than 103 minutes of a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference thriller at Good Field, it was freshman forward Josh Gonzalez (Portage, Ind.) who put a bow on a defining win for the Spartans' program. Taking a pass from junior forward Drake DeWitt (Columbia City, Ind.) from just outside Transylvania University's goal box, he slipped past a defender and hit the perfect strike that deftly sailed over the head of Pioneers' netminder Drew Grishman and just under the crossbar for the winner in double overtime.
"I told the guys they could find pockets of space (on the pitch)," an elated Coach Corey Brueggeman said. "Drake and Josh played the ball together beautifully, and Josh hit a great shot.
Wow … what a win," he added breathlessly. "There may have been some writing us off in the conference after the way things started. This gives us so much momentum moving forward."
One may ask what Gonzalez' fourth score of the season did from a historical prospective. It sent Transylvania to their first loss overall and league play and gave the Black and Gold a win over an NCAA Division III top 20-ranked foe. Beyond that, it was the program's first victory in the series against the Pioneers.
"This one is for all of the alumni before us who battled against Transylvania and came up short … it's also for (former head coach) Dave (Good)," Brueggeman reflected. "We're glad he was here to see this … this was one of the matches every year he always looked forward to."
MU, improving to 6-8 overall and 2-3 in the league, out-shot their guests 16-13. Gonzalez topped the chart with six overall and three on goal. Meanwhile, senior goalkeeper Brady Forman (Hastings, Mich.) continued a sparkling campaign with a clean sheet with three saves included.
The Spartans conclude a three-match home stand Wednesday, Oct. 11, as Defiance College comes to North Manchester. Kickoff is 3:30 p.m.