Mounsithiraj's 100th Career Win Comes At Perfect Time
GOSHEN, Ind. - Goshen College head coach Tavi Mounsithiraj picked up his 100th career victory and it couldn't have come at a better time as the Maple Leafs snapped a two-game skid with a 3-1 victory over visiting Huntington University Tuesday night.
Mounsithiraj becomes the third Maple Leaf men's soccer coach to reach the milestone following Dwain Hartzler (259) and John Ingold (101). His win on Tuesday also gave Goshen its first Mid-Central College Conference victory of the season.
"Wow, finally we got our first conference win of the year," Mounsthiraj sighed in relief. "I thought we started the game out playing really good soccer. We had to change the lineup around some with personnel so that we could feel free to score more goals and to come up with three, I was very happy."
Whether it was the lineup changes, a fresh approach, or just the Leafs stepping up for the occasion, it did not take long for them to grab a lead Tuesday night. Senior Afrah Haile displayed some nice footwork down the end line before dropping a ball off to the top of the box. Classmate Juan Diaz De Leon did the rest, driving it to the far post for his first goal of the season and 11th of his career.
The Leafs took the 1-0 lead into the halftime break, but saw it disappear just four minutes into the second period as Huntington equalized off the foot of Eric Bjorndal.
"After Juan's goal, the match was pretty even going into the second half," Mounsithiraj explained. "Huntington was trying to find the equalizer and they did with a fantastic finish from 25 yards out that just screamed in. It was a very nice goal."
After several close chances, Goshen finally grabbed the lead again on a 30-yard blast from sophomore Alejandro Davalos. "With the game level, we tried to find some answers to get this home win," Mounsithiraj added. "Alejandro picked up the loose ball and hit a rocket into the back of the net. He really got a hold of that one."
Goshen's junior goalkeeper Ryan Troyer had to make just three saves on the night, but two of them were big ones. One came in the first half as he kept the Leafs in front with a point-blank save. The other came shortly after Davalos' goal and again was from close range. Huntington was pressing for their second equalizer of the night and sent a cross in, which they directed on net with an open look. Troyer was equal to the test, though, and was able to keep Goshen in front.
Finally, in the 82nd minute, the Maple Leafs were able to ice the game. Junior Greg Thiessen sent a tricky through ball past the Forester defense. Sophomore Jan Dohnal received it and expertly touched it by an onrushing Huntington keeper and then put it into the upper corner for his first career tally.
"Dohnal's goal brought sighs of relief from all of us with the win just minutes away," Mounsithiraj admitted. "This was a very good result for us and I was pleased with the play of our defensive team of Jordan Berkey, Ryan Troyer, and Rick Eigsti for giving the guys up front a chance."
The third-straight Maple Leaf men's soccer coach to rack up 100 victories, Mounsithiraj now holds a career mark of 100-76-20 overall and 37-28-7 in MCC play. In his ten seasons, he has been named MCC Coach of the Year, NAIA Region VIII Coach of the Year, led the Leafs to two conference titles and an appearance in the NAIA National Championships, their first since 1977.
"This win is very special for me, but more than anything else it was a good win for the boys and for our fans," Mounsithiraj concluded. "With this 100th win, I do want to thank former athletic director Mr. Ken Pletcher for having faith in me and giving me the opportunity to be a coach at Goshen College. Of course, this win wouldn't be possible without all the coaches that started a great tradition, all the great players, and most of all the student body that comes out every night to will out team to the victory."
The Maple Leafs will look to use the match as momentum as they head to the University of Saint Francis on Saturday. Kick off for the Mid-Central College Conference contest is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.