Spartans break through, rally past Bluffton

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Christine Johnson knew exactly what her Manchester University team and program needed Wednesday, Oct. 25.

“We all needed a win and achieve success from a morale standpoint,” the second-year head coach said simply after the Black and Gold reached the victory column for the first time in 2017 with a two-goal second half comeback to overtake Bluffton University 2-1 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference action at Good Field. “This team is so much more talented than the record indicates. It was all about making the connections and playing together on the field.”

After the visiting Beavers took advantage of a 50-50 ball right in front of the Black and Gold net for a goal midway through the first half, MU started to pick up the pressure on visiting keeper Jules Frazier. They out-shot their guests 11-3 in the first stanza and picked that pace up even more in the second 45 minutes to the tune of six shot on goal attempts. Senior forward Delanie Jones (Madison, Ind.) got the home crowd to its feet with a strong strike from the left side of the 18 that just got past Frazier’s diving attempt and squeezed between the keeper and the post for a 1-1 tie in the 73rd minute as part of her first collegiate score. As the clock appeared headed to a regulation draw and extra session action, senior midfielder Courtney Hersick (Plymouth, Ind.) got past the BU defense and drilled a shot that Frazier saved but rebounded to the foot of junior midfielder/forward Maranda Birmingham(Kouts, Ind.) and into the back of the net for the eventual game winner.

“We told them at halftime just to do the little things right, connect on passes and communicate around the field,” Johnson said. “That’s how in the end it got done.”

Birmingham and Hersick led the shot attack, combining for 13 of the 22 including three on frame. Junior goalkeeper Cami Holford (Valparaiso, Ind.) registered a pair of saves to gain the win in goal.

Manchester University concludes their season Saturday, Oct. 28, hosting Earlham College. Kickoff is 1 p.m. at Good Field and is highlighted by Senior Day 2017 festivities.

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