NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – A steady recent rise by Manchester University resumed in its home regular season finale Saturday, Oct. 22.
Coach Christine Johnson's crew gave a Mt. St. Joseph University squad that's part of a three-way tie for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference lead all it could handle in front of a large and vocal Senior Day 2016 crowd at Good Field. After the Lions struck for a pair of scores in the opening 15 minutes, the Black and Gold defense and sophomore goalkeeper Caroline Smith (Mason, Ohio) put a lock on the home side net, while the offense put pressure, and plenty of it, on the visiting defense for nearly 70 minutes.
Sophomore forward/midfielder Maranda Birmingham (Kouts, Ind.) posted her team-high tying ninth goal of the season, heading in a deflected shot in the 34th minute to make the count 2-1. Following a halftime in which defender Kari Carpenter (Hartford City, Ind.) and midfielder Jessica Sanchez (Fort Wayne, Ind.) were acknowledged for their career highlights, MU's offense picked up where it left off from the latter stages of the opening frame. Playing a good portion of the second half in MSJ's end, the Spartans posted eight shots, three of which were on frame as potential match-tying scores but were knocked away.
Mt. St. Joseph tallied a goal in the 83rd minute to provide itself some breathing room down the stretch and finalize a hard-fought 3-1 decision. Birmingham and junior midfielder Courtney Hersick (Plymouth, Ind.) each registered four shot attempts for Manchester University, while fellow junior midfielder Kelsey Ropp (Freeland, Mich.) ended with three.
MU (2-11 overall, 2-5 HCAC) takes to the road for its final two regular season matches. They go to Bluffton University of Ohio Wednesday, Oct. 26, and Earlham College Saturday, Oct. 29.