When the Manhattan High girls’ soccer team faces off against Centennial League rival Washburn Rural on Thursday evening, the team will do so with an extra boost of confidence after defeating Salina Central on the road Monday night, 4-1.
The Indians turned a 1-1 tie at halftime into a win with a dominant second-half effort. For the game, Manhattan (2-2) outshot the Mustangs 20-7.
“We made some adjustments at halftime,” Manhattan head coach Mike Sanchez said. “We didn’t play the prettiest style of soccer in the first half. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the same intensity level for a full 80 minutes, but we dominated the second half, made some adjustments.”
Brooke Henry gave the Indians their first lead about 10 minutes into the game, but the Mustangs answered back before halftime to tie it up.
In the second half, Manhattan got goals from Kelsey Schroll and Zoey Botkin to take a 3-1 lead.
“Kelsey scored the second one, it was basically on a goal kick, she won the ball in the air, settled in and had a good shot from about 20-yards out that beat the keeper,” Sanchez said. “Then the third one came from Zoey Botkin, she took the corner, it got sent back out, then Kelsey played her a ball back and she hit the shot from about 18-yards out by the far post. It was actually a really nice goal.”
The Indians got their final goal from Maggie Fischer on a corner kick to win comfortably.
Sanchez said the team is still looking to find its identity, which has led to some slow starts.
“I don’t want to say we’re a second-half team, because we’re going to have teams that come out and test us early on,” he said. “Unlike basketball or football, it’s not as easy to bounce back in the second half when it’s a low-scoring game. But I’d like to think that we’re still trying to figure out who works well together, what 11 girls can start the game give us that edge from the start.
“We have a cohesive group overall, but we’re still figuring out who fits where.”
With a tough match against Rural coming up on Thursday, Sanchez knows his team must start the game with more intensity.
“We know that against them, we can’t be a second-half team,” he said. “We’ve got to come out strong and ready to play. I know we’re motivated. I think we had won three straight before losing last year, so it’s definitely something these girls would like to bring back to Manhattan.”
The Junior Blues are also 2-2 on the year, but like the Indians, play a tough non-league schedule. Thursday’s game against Rural is set to begin at 6:45 p.m. at Bishop Stadium.
“Their MO is usually high pressure and then they’re going to be deadly on their set pieces,” Sanchez said. “We’ve got to find a way to finish. With the number of shots we’re taking, we’ve got to put the ball in the back of the net.”