The last time the Manhattan High girls’ soccer team played Topeka High, the Indians struggled for an entire half before earning a 4-0 win.
In Tuesday’s rematch in the opening round match of the Class 6A Central Regional, Manhattan had no such troubles.
The Indians (12-4) scored a pair of goals in the first five minutes and kept pouring it on, leading 5-0 at halftime and ending the game with an 8-0, shutout victory.
MHS coach Mike Sanchez said he was pleased with the start, though his team still wasted some chances against the overwhelmed Trojans.
“We still had opportunities we didn’t put away early,” Sanchez said. “But we were able to capitalize on other scoring opportunities we had, so hopefully we carry it into Thursday.”
With the win, Manhattan earns a trip back to Junction City (13-3) for a rivalry rematch that has more on the line than just local pride. The Blue Jays defeated Lawrence 3-0 on Tuesday to set up the second match between the schools in the span of nine days. Manhattan won the first matchup last week, 1-0, in double overtime with 30 seconds left on the clock.
Sanchez knows it will be a challenge on Thursday.
“I think it’s always hard to play a team twice, especially in that short of a time span,” he said. “We’ll adjust to what they had the first game that went to double overtime, but we really just need to capitalize early.”
Junior forward Par McNair said maintaining a high energy level is important if the Indians want to make it to the quarterfinals.
“We know where their strengths are from last year, so we’re going into this knowing they have a strong defense and a few strong forwards, and that’s where we need to focus,” McNair said. “We had a lot of energy tonight, so hopefully we carry that energy into Thursday.”
As for Tuesday’s game, the Indians took care of business early, using the gusting winds at their back to score five first-half goals, while the Trojans struggled to even get shots off against the Manhattan defense. Topeka High got just one shot on goal in the first half, nearly 30 minutes into the period.
“We went with the wind, so that way we could come out early and take advantage of it,” Sanchez said. “We had some shots from 18 (yards), had a little help with the wind and put it to the right place where the goalkeeper couldn’t get it. We always want to come out gunning early on and set the tone.”
Emma Samenus finished the game with a hat trick, while McNair finished with a pair of goals. Kayla Faust, Willie Stockton and Kelli Stockton all had single goals to round out the scoring.
Manhattan had 22 shots on goal, with the Trojans finishing with three. Trojan keeper Emma Fiander had a busy night, finishing with 11 saves.
“It was a good game and a good start,” Samenus said. “We talked about putting away the game with the heat and wanting to score right away. I think we connected really well. We had good passes. Monday, we worked on going toward the goal and cutting into the ball.”
McNair said the Indians were able to maneuver against the Trojans because of a lack of defensive pressure.
“I feel like they didn’t put as much pressure on us,” McNair said. “It was easier to find the goal and see the opportunities.”
The regional final is set for 6 p.m. on Thursday in Junction City.