Junction City entered Thursday’s regional final in the midst of its best season ever.
The Blue Jays were talking about the pride that comes with winning the regional final and hanging up a regional champions banner among the other teams in the school’s gym.
But Manhattan was there last year, and it took care of business. The Indians did that again on Thursday, beating their rivals 3-0 at Anneberg Park to advance to the quarterfinals.
The Indians will host Wichita Northwest at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Anneberg Park. The winner will advance to the Class 6A final four tournament at Hummer Sports Park. It’s the third straight season the Indians have played in the quarterfinal round.
Sanchez said he was happy for his team to take the win and continue its season.
“It felt pretty exciting for the girls, a lot of them have been there, but for others it was there first go at it,” he said. “Definitely it was a very exciting time for the girls.”
Without a doubt, Junction City wanted Thursday’s game to be an emotional rematch of the Indians’ 4-2 win over the Blue Jays two weeks ago. But Sanchez said on Tuesday that they just had to play their game and not get caught up in that.
The MHS coach said that’s exactly what they did on Thursday, and that’s why they came away on top.
“We’ve been trying to get it in our mind as a team that if we take it one game at a time and we play the way we need to play then the result should be in our favor,” Sanchez said.
The Indians scored the first goal of the game in the 20th minute when Emma Samenus tracked down a pass from Myranda Richardson and put it through the net.
In the 13th minute, Onyeka Ehie — returning from an injury on Tuesday — turned on a ball from Hannah Livsey to give the Indians a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Ehie put the game away in the second half, just like she did on Tuesday, scoring on a pass from Annissa Durar with 9:22 to play, erasing any chance of a Blue Jays comeback.
“(Onyeka) is a really big part of our team,” Sanchez said. “She helped us score goals up top and I was glad to see she was able to have a quick turnaround and be able to play.”
Sanchez said his message to his team after the game remained consistent with what he’s told it all year.
“I told them what I’ve told them all year, we will focus on the game on Tuesday, get ready for that and depending on that end result we will look forward to whatever comes after that,” he said. “I really believe in our girls with the way they’ve been playing this year that if we play the right way we could be good.”