The ball was bouncing all around the goal boxes on Monday at Anneberg Park, and it just happened to bounce the right way for the Manhattan High girls’ soccer team.
On a corner kick in the first half, Jennifer Then managed to put a foot on one of those balls and knocked it past the Hayden goalkeeper with 12:32 to play. The Indians held on to win the game 1-0.
MHS (8-2-1) coach Mike Sanchez said it was one of those games where the winning team has to get the right bounce.
“Jennifer was there at the right place in the right time, and thankfully she was able to put it away,” he said. “They worked hard, they fought through — it might not have been our best game, but a win is a win and we’ll take it.”
The Indians’ effort was aided by the game its own goalkeeper had, as junior Kristen Thompson made 12 saves on Hayden’s 13 shots on goal. Much of the time, those shots were coming from inside the goal box.
“You have to have a lot of focus when you have a lot of balls flying in at you, you just have to keep the team in mind,” Thompson said. “Some of them were easy, but you always get those hard ones in there that you really have to move for.”
Sanchez said it was a dual effort between Thompson and the defense, which stopped Hayden’s best player from getting it going.
“Kristen came up with some great saves and our defense did a good job to shut down their player up top,” he said. “She is a tremendous player and I think they took her out of it, which helped us tremendously.”
The Indians are hitting the final stretch of their regular season schedule, starting with a trip to Wichita Heights on Friday and one to Wichita Northwest next Tuesday.
Manhattan has three Centennial League games remaining, with Highland Park, Junction City and Shawnee Heights still on the schedule. The Indians are currently tied with Washburn Rural — who they tied with earlier in the season head-to-head — for first place in the league.
Sanchez said they just have to keep focusing on winning games to remain in the position they want as regionals quickly approach.
“The two losses, we would like to get them back, but they were against quality teams,” he said. “The rest of the way out we just have to keep working and stay healthy.”