Facing off against league rival Washburn Rural Thursday night, the Manhattan High girls’ soccer team knew it was in for a battle.
The Indians struck early, but couldn’t hold the momentum, falling 2-1 at Bishop Stadium. Like most of Manhattan’s losses, the difference came in fewer realized goal-scoring chances.
‘It was a hard-fought battle,’ Manhattan head coach Mike Sanchez ‘I think we stepped it up in the second half and had some more opportunities.’
The Indians got on the board quickly, taking a 1-0 lead on a corner kick by Zoey Botkin that deflected off of a Rural player for a goal in the 10th minute.
‘It was huge,’ Sanchez said of the quick goal. ‘We had momentum on our side and hopefully would play with a little more confidence the rest of the game. I thought it was critical and I was pleased to get that one in the first 10 minutes. But there was obviously still a lot of game left.’
But Rural answered right back, scoring less than three minutes later on a goal by Sarah Frost, with Kaira Houser logging the assist by drawing keeper Molly Fiser out of the goal and sending the pass to Frost for an easy goal.
From there, the two teams battled back and forth but the score remained tied heading into halftime.
Rural got what turned out to be the game-winning goal in the 57th minute by Avery Munns.
‘They put away a really good opportunity in the second half,’ Sanchez said. ‘She’s about 5-foot-5 and got it over the 5-foot-9 girl defending her. She was in the right place, right time, and won the ball. It’s always a matter of finishing.’
Manhattan had its chances late in the game to tie it up, including a well-aimed free kick by Kelsey Schroll from about 35 yards out that was popped up and over the goal by Rural’s goalkeeper for the save. The Indians got two ensuing corner kicks following the free kick, but couldn’t capitalize.
‘I won’t lie, the one that Kelsey hit, the keeper came up with a great save,’ Sanchez said. ‘I thought that was going in, and she got her hand on it to flick it over the bar. It’s a great save on her part and a great hit by Kelsey. It’s always a battle with these guys.’
Manhattan was outshot by Rural 17-13, including 10-8 with shots on goal. Fiser finished the night with 11 saves.
‘It’s my job to see the entire field, so my top priority is to make sure everybody is where they need to be,’ Fiser said. ‘I like to talk to them, tell them where they need to be at. Of course, making saves is great, but it’s my job to organize everybody else.’
Fiser said the team’s effort was better than last year’s 5-0 loss to Rural.
‘It’s disappointing not to come out with the win after we played so hard, but we played really tough and it’s a lot better than last year against them,’ she said. ‘So I’m proud of the way we played. We just have to have a short memory and go into practice tomorrow working hard and be ready to play again.’
The Indians get right back after it on Saturday, traveling to play another tough team in Blue Valley-Stilwell at 2 p.m.
‘We know this is the schedule,’ Sanchez said. ‘We know what’s coming at us and we’ve got to rest up tomorrow and train. We have a lot of girls that played a lot of minutes. The girls in the back played 80 minutes, so we need to rest up and recover and get ready for a long bus ride on Saturday.’