Mike Sanchez embraced each of his players, one-by-one, without an ounce of disappointment on his face.
The Manhattan High girls’ soccer coach was more than proud of his players for their effort in a 1-0 loss to Wichita Northwest on Tuesday at Anneberg Park.
It was the third time the Indians had advanced to the quarterfinals in the past three years, and the second time their season ended in that game.
Sanchez pinned the loss square on his shoulders after Northwest used the wind to get in open space in the first half, and held MHS from getting to the goal in the second half.
“The loss falls on me, I didn’t do a good enough job and I didn’t adjust the way I should have,” he said. “That was a great decision by them to take the wind in the first half, but no excuses, we still have to make sure we take care of business and we lost our mark there and they put away and caught us off guard.”
The lone goal of the game came in the final minutes of the first half, when the Grizzlies sailed a ball in position to give a player a chance to breakaway toward the goal.
Sanchez said Northwest simply capitalized on its chance to score.
“It’s a hard game, I hate to say it’s about luck, but it’s about who capitalizes on their opportunities,” he said. “They made the most of the opportunities they had and unfortunately we didn’t. It wasn’t our day.”
The Indians made several wind-aided shots at the goal in the second half, but armed with its 1-0 lead, Northwest often packed it in with several defenders and made it tough to set anything up.
The Indians got a good shot at the goal when Bailey Snyder sent a ball toward the net at the 5:41 mark, but the goalkeeper was there to stop it, and it was the last shot they got.
Sanchez said the Grizzlies had a gameplan that made it tough for his team.
“I think they came out in a gameplan to make sure to mark our forwards tight,” he said. “I think they pretty much man-marked Onyeka (Ehie) the whole game and it frustrated us.”
The Indians got junior Jennifer Then back in the game for the first time since they played Northwest on May 4. The junior had missed time since then with a spider bite.
Sanchez said she wanted to play, and he was glad to see her get the opportunity to play in the final game of the season.
“She wanted it and it’s been hard for her,” he said. “The last game she had played was against Northwest and she scored two goals for us.”
The Indians will say goodbye to a talented senior class that played a key role in the team sustaining the success from last season. The Indians finished tied for the Centennial League title and won two regional games.
It’s the first senior class for Sanchez, and he said they did a good job of adjusting to the changes he made this season.
“Coming in when you have a senior class that started with a coach in ninth grade, I think they had to adjust and they did that well,” he said. “Credit to them, they have done a great job of adapting to what I asked them to do. They are good kids, they are awesome and I know they are going to do great in whatever they do in life.”