Soccer rallies to maintain grip on HCAC lead

Hanover College’s men’s soccer team maintained its grip on first place in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference with a 3-2 home victory against Earlham College.

Senior forward John Wittich (West Chester, Ind.) had two goals and an assist to lead the Panthers, now 8-5-1 overall and 4-0 in the Heartland Conference.

Hanover rallied from a 2-1 second-half deficit to post its fifth consecutive victory. The streak is the longest for the Panthers since the squad opened the 2001 season with five straight wins.

Freshman forward Matthew Eldridge (Louisville, Ky.) gave the Panthers an early lead with a goal early in the second minute of action. Eldridge, who leads the team with six goals, directed a pass from Wittich into the left side of the net.

Earlham, which came into the contest riding a three-match winning streak, countered with a goal in the 42nd minute and grabbed the lead with another in the 57th minute.

Wittich scored the equalizer fewer than three minutes later. He nudged a header into the bottom left corner of the goal off a cross from sophomore midfielder Joaquin Acuna (Santiago, Chile).

Hanover surged into the lead in the 71st minute. Junior defender Drew Servais (Carmel, Ind.) chipped a cross from the baseline into the six-yard box and Wittich headed the ball past a diving keeper.

Earlham earned a 14-12 advantage in shots, including a 10-5 margin in the second half.

The Quakers, which entered the contest tied with Hanover for the league lead, slipped to 7-7 overall and 3-1 in the HCAC with the setback.

Wittich, Eldridge and freshman forward Austin Bush (Washington, Ind.) had three shots apiece to spark Hanover.

Junior goalie Trevor Korfhagen (Cincinnati, Ohio) notched three saves, including two in the second half.

Hanover vs. Earlham statistics