While it wasn’t always flashy, the Manhattan High girls’ soccer team took care of business on Tuesday, winning its regional opener over Lawrence 3-1 at Anneberg Park.
The Indians will play Junction City for the second time this season, having just beaten the Blue Jays in their home finale last week, 4-2. Junction City beat Leavenworth 2-1 in overtime on Monday in its regional opener.
MHS coach Mike Sanchez said he knows it’s a big game for both sides.
“In (Junction City’s) heads it’s a rematch, and for us I don’t want to call it a rematch, it’s a regional final game and it’s another game for us,” he said. “We’ll look to play our game and I’ve told the girls all year, if we play our game then we’ll be fine.”
Sanchez was taking the “win is a win,” look at the game on Tuesday, after the Indians put more than two dozen shots on goal and got just three to hit the back of the net.
The MHS coach said his team was having trouble finishing when it had the ball near the Lawrence goal, as the Lions’ defense was collapsing back quickly.
“We had about 28 shots, and I hate to take away by talking about what we didn’t do well, but we need to be better at combining in the final third and get behind the defense,” Sanchez said. “We play a lot of teams that pack it in the box and it will be tough for us if we are just standing around.
“We just have to look to possess and then possess with a purpose, we have to look to penetrate on those possessions.”
Onyeka Ehie scored all three goals for the Indians, but went down with an injury after the final score, and had to be helped from the field. She did not return.
Sanchez said they hoped she would be healthy and ready for Thursday’s game.
“She’s a dynamic player for us and we’ve asked her to do a lot against certain teams this year that are different from what she is used to,” he said. “She is an important player on our team and we will hope for the best.”
Ehie scored midway through the first half on an unassisted goal with 16:08 left. Her second goal came off a pass from Annissa Durar with 8:41 to play in the half. Lawrence made it a one-goal game with a score from AnnaKate Kleibohmer with seven seconds left in the first half.
Ehie scored her final goal in the second half on a header off a corner kick with 16:27 to play. Ehie collided with the Lawrence goalkeeper and a defender while in the air, and all three crashed to the pitch. Only the Lawrence goalkeeper remained in the game.
Sanchez admitted after the game that he was a little worried about the matchup with the Lions and overconfidence, but he said they are working toward avoiding that situation.
“We’ve been talking after last Thursday’s game, let’s focus on Tuesday, because I think sometimes after you play a .500 team or under .500 team, you tend to come in a little overconfident,” he said. “We’ve been working on not doing that, because I feel like those are the games that concern me the most.
“I hate to say it, but they’re the games you feel like you should have, but sometimes you don’t come in and play well, because in a player’s mind, it’s like ‘we got this.’ We just have to focus on one game at a time.”