Comeback victory pushes men’s soccer team past Aurora University

Senior midfielder Patrick Hickey (above) provided the Titans with their second goal of the night. Last season, Hickey awarded Midwest All-Region Squad honors.

Photo credit: IWU Sports

Senior midfielder Patrick Hickey (above) provided the Titans with their second goal of the night. Last season, Hickey awarded Midwest All-Region Squad honors. Photo credit: IWU Sports

William Heidenreich

In their first home game of the season, the Titan men’s soccer team beat the Aurora University Spartans 3-1 in an exciting come-from-behind victory. 

Shortly after the game started, an IWU penalty gave the Spartans a free-kick opportunity in the eleventh minute, the Spartans jumping to a 1-0 lead. 

A discouraging start for the Titans took a turn for the better when the team answered Aurora’s penalty kick goal with one of their own. 

Scoring the goal was Freshman Jonathan Vang who was fouled in the thirty-seventh minute of play, his goal being the first of his career. 

“The tieing goal we scored before half gave our team a lot of momentum going into the second half,” senior goalkeeper Alex Ruckstaetter said. 

In the fifty-fourth minute of the second half, the Titans offense scored again. The goal, assisted by senior Orion Marty on a free-kick, was right on track to senior teammate Patrick Hickey who used his head to knock it in for the score. 

Their early second-half goal would be one of two in the half, their third and final point coming in the eighty-ninth minute of play. 

This goal was assisted by sophomore Donovan Malone and put home by senior Logan Alexander who was able to knock the ball in on rebound, erasing the Spartans’ chances of tying the game. 

“During the second half, we were more productive on offense, giving our guys quality opportunities that translated into points,” senior midfielder and defender Spencer Bard said. 

The Titans had nine shots on goal in the second-half, three more than the first, a performance improvement that helped them topple their opponents. 

Defensively, the team showed improvement as the game progressed, holding Aurora to five shots on goal in the second-half, three fewer shots than the first. 

As a result of his efforts on defense, goalkeeper Ruckstaetter earned CCIW Player of the Week Honors. In games against Aurora and Lake Forest College (Lake Forest, ILL), he saved a total of eight shots, while also securing his twenty-first win, one shy of the school record held by Adam Wachholtz since 2001. 

His time as goalie started as a freshman, the now talented senior has displayed commendable performances since his first game three seasons ago. 

In his first season, he did not allow a goal for the first 191 minutes of his career, winning five games and recording 39 saves. 

Now, he is the recipient of several conference honors and an essential element of the Titan defense.

“Getting the award is a huge honor, but the focus is our team’s overall performance and success in the postseason,” Ruckstaetter said, “Our past two games were hard-fought losses, but a win against Greenville will help put us on track. 

For their next competition, the Titans will square-off on the road against the Greenville College Tigers (Greenville, ILL), Saturday, September 14. 

IWU has not played the Tigers since the 2017 season, beating them 5-1. Overall, the Titans are 2-3, hopeful of improving to an even 3-3 with Saturday’s game.