Indiana Wesleyan University moved itself into the top half of the Mid-Central College Conference on Saturday afternoon, defeating Goshen College 3-2 on the Maple Leafs’ home turf.The match was marked by a series of controversial foul calls; one such call in the second half led to a yellow card on Goshen coach Tavi Mounsithiraj, his first in 11 years at the helm of the Maple Leafs. Despite the card, Mounsithiraj diffused criticism of the officials after the game, saying, “we didn’t lose because of the referee, and we don’t win because of the referee. I told my team that IWU can’t beat us, but we can lose to them.”
Semantics aside, the Wildcats outscored Goshen even though the Maple Leafs scored first. With more than 40 minutes left in the first half, senior Alejandro Davalos broke free from the Wildcats’ defense along the right sideline, received a pass from midfielder Greg Thiessen and pounded a shot past goalkeeper Dylan McCauley for a 1-0 advantage.
The Wildcats tallied two goals in the first half: first, with 16 minutes remaining, on a pass through the Goshen defense to an attacker who was very nearly offside; then, three minutes later, Goshen goalkeeper, Ryan Troyer, lost control of the ball while intercepting a crossing pass; a pair of Wildcats were there to clean up the spill, and the score was 2-1.
Goshen tied the score, 2-2, in the 37th minute on a free kick from sophomore Jesse Ramer. Standing nearly 50 yards from the net, nearer to the sideline than the field’s center, the defender lofted a pass into the penalty area. McCauley appeared to come forward in anticipation of the ball coming down, only to have the shot sail over his head, bounce once and hit the back of the net untouched.
IWU picked up the game-winning goal on a free kick after Goshen fouled just outside the penalty area with 38 minutes left. Sophomore midfielder Geoff Bowman sent a low line drive to Troyer’s right and into the net, making the score 3-2, where it stood for the rest of the match.
Possession was a key stat for IWU in their victory, Mounsithiraj explained. “If we have possession, we don’t have to foul,” he said. “We have a tendency this year to give up a goal early in the second half, then break down and lose our organization.”
The Maple Leafs also lost a pair of starters, midfielders Alain Chaponniere and Caleb Longenecker, to injury in the second half, but Mounsithiraj attributes those to Goshen playing its third game in five days.
With the loss, Goshen drops to 2-3 in MCC play, falling into a three-way tie for fifth place in the conference standings. IWU is 3-2, in fourth place. If history holds, IWU and Goshen will meet again–Indiana Wesleyan has ended Goshen’s season in the conference tournament four years running.
Mounsithiraj hopes that the Maple Leafs can improve their seeding for the conference tournament that begins Saturday, Oct. 29, saying, “our magic number is five conference wins. We have the personnel to go do it, but we need to win three of our next four to get there.”
Goshen hosts ninth-place Mount Vernon Nazarene on Wednesday, while Indiana Wesleyan hosts Marian the same night.