Through three games this season, the Manhattan High boys’ soccer team has allowed just one goal.
That goal proved costly on Wednesday night, however, as Manhattan was shut out in the Titan Classic semifinals against Hutchinson in a 1-0 loss.
Hutchinson’s Radley Arnold scored from 20 yards out with 10 minutes to play, spurring the Salthawks to the victory, as the normally strong offense for the Indians couldn’t get on the board, despite many chances.
MHS outshot Hutchinson 12-2, but couldn’t find the back of the net. After Hutchinson took the lead, the Manhattan (2-1) offense began trying to do too much in its attempts to tie the game in the final 10 minutes.
“They were disciplined and they worked really hard,” Manhattan head coach Frank Alonso said of Hutchinson. “They got a goal and we panicked and they beat us. It was just a stereotypical, classic overlook game. We lacked some discipline and we didn’t play as a team.”
Against Manhattan’s aggressive offense, the Salthawks packed it in on defense and tried to play balls over the top, which led to the shot discrepancy. But Hutchinson needed only one goal using that strategy, and its patience paid off 70 minutes into the match.
“They were disciplined, they believed in each other and they stuck to their game plan,” Alonso said. “Had they tried to do different things, it probably wouldn’t have ended the same way. We need to refocus and not worry about the big picture — we need to worry about the next game.”
Alonso was most disappointed in the way his team handled its first look at adversity after cruising through the first two matches of the season.
“We didn’t handle it very well as a program,” he said. “But it’s a teaching moment. I’ve seen this game before — it’s like Groundhog Day for me. We found a way to lose and it’s just one of those games.
“We’ll learn from it. Sometimes you have to lose to get better. We threw a game away, we really did.”
Dodge City defeated Wichita Heights 4-1 in the other semifinal Wednesday, setting up a third-place match against Heights on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Wichita.
Alonso is hoping his team can bounce back in that match, while playing with less individual burden.
“When you press too hard, and you try too hard and put it all on yourself to score the game-winner, it’s a slippery slope,” Alonso said. “As a coaching staff, we take the blame. We’ll be ready for Saturday and we’ll have to move on.”