With a big game against rival Washburn Rural looming on Thursday, it would have been easy for the Manhattan boys’ soccer team to overlook Topeka Seaman on Tuesday.
Instead, they scored a goal in the first five minutes and led the rest of the way in a 2-1 victory.
Head coach Frank Alonso said he was pleased with the quick start by his team.
“It was a good game,” he said. “They were really solid. They’re one of our competitors for the Centennial League, and it was a battle.
“But the first 20 minutes or so we were phenomenal.”
The Indians’ Alex Dzewaltowski scored on a corner from Eric Gray barely five minutes into the match, giving the team plenty of confidence.
In the second half, Manhattan (5-1, 2-0 Centennial) added to its 1-0 lead with a goal by Jonathan Turnley, assisted by Killian Gorman.
They stayed in control the rest of the way until the last few minutes, when Seaman’s Brandon Stromgren scored to give the Vikings (5-1-1) a chance.
“It wasn’t easy, but I thought we deserved to win it, and I’m proud of the boys,” Alonso said. “Because those are the games in our history that we’ve lost — those scrappy games. I thought our possession at times was very good tonight.”
Dzewaltowski agreed with his coach’sassessment.
“I believe we were the better team tonight,” he said. “It was difficult to play against them — they’re a good team. We pulled it out, got a couple goals. They were able to come back a little bit at the end, but we were able to pull it out.”
Jordan Price, who served as the team’s captain for the night, said the loss to Garden City, when the Indians allowed their opponent to rally in the closing minutes, still serves as a motivator.
“Before the game we were talking about Garden City, and then at halftime we talked about it again,” he said. “We know it’s not over ‘til it’s over.”
The win sets up a showdown of top league contenders on Thursday between undefeated Washburn Rural and the Indians in Topeka. While it’s still early in the season, the winner of the match will be in the driver’s seat for the league title.
“Washburn hasn’t lost in the last 35 games in the Centennial League, and we were the last team to beat them,” Alonso said. “We’ve given them more losses than any other team in the league by a good distance. So it should be an incredible game. I’m excited about it.”
After last year’s struggles, Alonso is happy to have his team be able to control its own destiny.
“We like to be in this position,” he said. “We struggled last year and now we’re in a position where if we win the game, we’ll have the upper hand in the Centennial. It’s going to be fun.”