Home opener goes way of St. Mary’s

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – The senior midfielder combination of Kelsey Ropp (Freeland, Mich.) and Courtney Hersick (Plymouth, Ind.) got Manchester University out to a fast start Sunday, Sept. 3.

Working on the right side of the St. Mary’s College of Indiana box, Hersick’s initial shot attempt ricocheted off Belles goalkeeper Thallia Robles, settling at Ropp’s foot. Ropp took advantage and sent a shot past Robles’ diving attempt into the left corner of the net for a quick 1-0 Spartans’ lead just over 10 minutes in.

From that point, the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association visitors wore down the home side defense to the tune of four scores from freshman McKenna Shea. Shea’s sparkling effort wound up an impressive weekend, as she tallied six goals versus MU and North Park University of Chicago, Ill.

Assistant coach Katie Beal, despite seeing the team drop to 0-2, noted things were turning around for the 90 minutes. “We still need to work on communication (around the pitch),” she said. “However, you can see from time to time that we’re getting it put together, especially on offense … we’re moving the ball well to feet and finding shots.”

A 24-13 shots advantage proved Beal’s remarks for the Black and Gold. Junior midfielder/forward Maranda Birmingham (Kouts, Ind.) notched 10 of them with two being dashed away by Robles, while Hersick followed with seven.

The Spartans continue a brief two-match home stand Wednesday, Sept. 6, welcoming Rochester College of Michigan. Kickoff is 4 p.m.

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