NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – A goal in the 43rd minute at Manchester University's Good Field Saturday, Oct. 28, ended seven years of frustration.
The Spartans, who hadn't been part of the league's post-season party since 2010, found themselves within reach of that chance when junior midfielder Samuel Tetteh-Quarshie (Accra, Ghana) took a cue from freshman forward Josh Gonzalez (Portage, Ind.) and worked his way in front of the Earlham College goal. Gonzalez, taking a pair of Quaker defenders with him to the left post, gently fed Tetteh-Quarshie who rifled a shot past the visiting netminder for a 1-0 Black and Gold lead.
"I just waited for a chance," Tetteh-Quarshie said of his second game-winning strike of the season. "I could see Gonzo moving quickly down the left side, so I moved into the middle and the ball was right there. I'm just glad I was able to do what I could to help us get this win."
In the end, even with Earlham pushing the tempo down the stretch, the Spartans' defense and senior goalkeeper Brady Forman (Hastings, Mich.) made the lone score stand up to lock up the league tourney berth. Forman collected one save and was aided by the quick thinking of junior midfielder Ben Niederhelman (Ross, Ohio) as the clock wound down in the second frame during another rock-solid defensive effort. On an EC cross attempt, he placed himself in front of a ball headed towards the home net for a back save to ensure the eighth shutout of the season and the program's first double-digit win campaign since 2007.
"This is a great way for our seniors to remember their Senior Day (for some time to come) in winning a match like this," Coach Corey Brueggeman said. "Getting to the HCAC tournament was one of the many goals the team set early in the season."
Fourth-seeded MU (10-8) travels to top-seeded Transylvania University for one of two semifinal round match-ups Wednesday, Nov. 1. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at TU's Pat Deacon Stadium.