NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Assistant coach Isaac Beal knows things won't always be pretty on the soccer pitch.
"Sometimes, you have to win ugly," he said after the Spartans moved over .500 with a physical 1-0 victory over St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foe Blackburn College Friday, Sept. 8. The win opened the home season on a strong note and kept a recent theme of successful results for the Spartans going in the annual Anderson University – Manchester University Raven-Spartan Classic, as the Black and Gold improved to 6-2-2 in the event over recent history.
"It's always good to get a win at home," he continued. "We had a nice crowd out in support. It was definitely physical (out there) but we showed our composure. Things got a little frantic in the second half, but we held strong. It was almost a mirror image of how we got the win over Illinois Tech last weekend."
The two sides appeared destined to reach halftime scoreless but senior midfielder Travis Richardson (Elizabethtown, Ky.) got the better than 150 fans to their feet in the waning moments. Gaining a volley off the foot of junior forward Samuel Tetteh-Quarshie (Accra, Ghana) that had rattled around the visiting goal box, he got the ball controlled, turned and fired it past the Blackburn keeper for what turned out to the deciding goal.
Fellow Class of 2018 member Brady Forman (Hastings, Mich.) and the back line made sure it stood up. Forman found himself among red shirts clearing crosses and corner kicks for a good share of the final 45 minutes and wound up with three saves in route to his seventh career clean sheet. Richardson tallied his seventh career scoring strike and second game winner, while the forward combination of junior Drake DeWitt (Columbia City, Ind.) and freshman Josh Gonzalez (Portage, Ind.) combined for nine of MU's 25-9 shots advantage.
The Spartans wrap up play in the Raven-Spartan Classic Saturday, Sept. 9, versus North Coast Athletic Conference side Wittenberg University. Kickoff is 3 p.m.
"It's another good test ahead," Beal noted. "They took Ohio Northern to 2-1 recently with a late goal being the decider. They're a good side, but we hope to carry the momentum and clean sheet from today into Saturday."