Manchester mens soccer vs bluffton
The men’s soccer team won against Bluffton for the first round of the HCAC tournament after losing to them during the regular season.
Photo provided by MU Athletics

Manchester Men’s Soccer Starts Tournament Strong by Beating Bluffton

Brett Wathen

The Manchester men’s soccer team opened the first round of the HCAC tournament with a win over Bluffton 1-0 on Saturday afternoon.

The Spartans (6-7-5) won a marathon of a game over Bluffton (7-8-3) with the contest going into overtime. A late volley from Junior Corey Mitchell to freshman Connor Shaffer put the Spartans on top in extra time. Manchester will travel to Terre Haute to play the one seeded Rose Hulman (12-1-3) Wednesday, November 2, in the HCAC tournament semi-finals. The winner of the contest will play the winner of Transylvania (11-5-4) and Hanover (9-4-4) for the HCAC championship Saturday, November 5.

The Spartans played very well defensively, shutting out Bluffton for only the second time this season in conference play. The team had played Bluffton to finish regular season conference schedule just four days prior and dropped the contest 3-1. The team was left feeling unsatisfied with the loss and used it throughout the week to prepare for Saturday. Players commented on the increased intensity of a conference tournament game and how it helped bring the team together during the game.

Sophomore midfielder Tanner Collins felt encouraged about Saturday’s result. He thought the team played very well locking down Bluffton on defense throughout the entirety of the game. He also felt confident the team can compete with Rose Hulman, the regular season conference champions. “The team’s work ethic and game preparation has been a strength this year and will help the team prepare for Rose later this week,” he said.

Junior midfielder Matt Brown has been a member of the Manchester Soccer team for three years, and he feels this team is different than in years past. “This team’s ability to play together has helped elevate everyone’s level of play,” he said. He also highlighted captains Elliot Noah and Julian Keough for being great leaders throughout the season, which has been instrumental to the team’s success.

With a big win over the weekend, they hope to keep riding this wave of momentum into Saturday’s matchup with Rose Hulman. The team is looking forward to the challenge and feels a better intensity will make for a very competitive game on Saturday.