Manchester University takes to the road for its opening weekend Friday and Saturday, August 31 and September 1.
Match details: The Spartans have a two-day visit to Michigan for clashes against Hope and Calvin College. Match times are 5 p.m. Friday at Hope's Van Andel Soccer Stadium and 7 p.m. Saturday at Calvin's Zuidema Soccer Field, both in Grand Rapids … Live audio, stats, and video for both contests are available via links at www.muspartans.com, the Internet home of Manchester University athletics.
Spartan Shorts: Head coach Corey Brueggeman's team, tabbed for a fourth-place Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference finish on the yearly coaches poll, has its targets set at some big goals this fall. A quick glance at the returnees from a record-setting and league postseason tournament campaign of a year ago show proof. The program brings back eight of 11 starters who helped pave the way to a 10-9 record. "Yes, we are looking forward to the start of the season," Brueggeman said. "It'll be interesting to see this group of returners rise into roles as juniors and seniors from a leadership aspect [around the field]. With that kind of talent available, the coaching staff feels like most players know what we are expecting so we're looking at some great opportunities this year." … Brueggeman noted that the Black and Gold's best chance for success on the Good Field pitch and beyond lies with the defense. "We have most of our guys returning [back there]," he pointed out. "[Junior Brandon] Renninger [of Fort Wayne, Ind.] and [junior Matthew] Roop [of West Lafayette, Ind.] have played center back; [another junior Nash] Walker [of West Lafayette, Ind.] is returning at left back, and we have three to four veterans and a few others going for right back, We had eight clean sheets last season and are aiming at 10 this year. We made it tough for folks to score on us especially at home, and hope to do so again." MU hopes the strong defensive picture allows more chances for creativity on offense. "I'm looking at the possibility of all six midfielders and forwards contributing," Brueggeman noted. [Reigning conference Freshman of the Year Josh] Gonzalez of [Portage, Ind.] and [returning all-conference selection junior Drake] DeWitt of Columbia City are the biggest weapons having combined for seven goals and 24 points last fall." … Three of the individuals above earned captains honors earlier this week. Brueggeman, his staff, and the program announced DeWitt, Renninger, and Roop as handling those key spots.
Home Schedule Starts: The sides' time away from North Manchester isn't long. They welcome the Baldwin-Wallace University of Ohio and Blackburn College of Illinois to campus Friday and Saturday, Sept. 7 and 8, at 5 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively, for their section of the annual Raven-Spartan Classic in conjunction with fellow HCAC member Anderson University.