LEXINGTON, KY. – There was more than met the eye on the final scoreboard view at Transylvania University's Pat Deacon Field Wednesday, Nov. 1.
Coach Corey Brueggeman's Manchester University squad stepped off the turf with some sadness for the hard-fought end of a season in a 1-0 final. However, they also left the Bluegrass State later that night knowing they'd made a mark in Black and Gold history.
A first double-digit win season since 2007 … the Spartans' first appearance in the conference postseason tournament since 2010 … Giving a Pioneer team that had been ranked among the United Soccer Coaches national and regional best throughout the year all they could handle in two contests which included picking up their first win over their southern foes last month … all of those factors showed an MU program on the rise.
"I told them to be proud of what we accomplished," Brueggeman said. "It's not easy earning six wins in the conference especially to do so in a row and surrender only one goal in the process. We had to do a lot to get to where we were. I feel like we did something most teams haven't done (to get to where we were at the end of the season.)
" (The difference between the two teams) was only a hair," he added. "The stat sheet was nearly even in every category. There was just a little bit separating us from the championship match. In the end, we were sad but not disappointed, realizing how well we played."
The final statistics proved his point. Both sides fired 16 shots, while the Spartans (10-9) led the chance on goal category 7-5. TU's difference maker occurred midway through the first half when freshman forward Griffin Lamb managed to slip a strike through the bedrock Spartans' back line and into the back of the net. From that junction, the home opportunities were few and far between while the MU offense charged forward often looking for the tying tally. However, two netminders and a defender combined for seven saves to allow Transylvania to advance to the championship match Saturday, Nov. 4.
Seven different Manchester University players each had a strike on the frame. Freshman forward Josh Gonzalez (Portage, Ind.) and junior midfielder Nate Johnson (Portage, Ind.) combined for half of the squad's total shot tries. Senior goalkeeper Brady Forman (Hastings, Mich.) proved his three league and one national Player of the week honors gathering four saves against the potent Pioneer offense.