The last time the Manhattan High boys’ soccer team played a match at Bishop Stadium, every pass, every deflection, every save mattered.
The match with Washburn Rural featured a high intensity level from start to finish that left the team exhausted.
Tuesday’s home match with Wichita South wasn’t nearly as taxing.
The Indians took a 6-0 lead to halftime en route to a 9-2 win against the Titans, extending their record to 7-1-1 while getting some valuable minutes for some of the younger players.
“We have an undefeated record at home and we’re looking to keep it going,” Matt Liotta said. “I thought we came out well, the starters did a good job and we had a lot of young guys come in off the bench late in the game. They played well also.”
Kirkland Lambert had a hat trick and Eric Gray scored two goals in the rout, with four other players each getting a goal.
Manhattan assistant coach Michael Lopez said the Titans are better than the score would indicate.
“That is a good team and they came in a little bit short — had a few players that didn’t travel with them,” he said. “Looking to break them down, we got to play multiple formations, which is important.”
Manhattan got on the board early, with Jonathan Turnley scoring a goal in the sixth minute on a throw-in from Lambert that gave him a clear shot at the goal from 15 yards out. Turnley didn’t waste the opportunity, putting the shot out of the reach of South goalkeeper James Everett.
Lambert added a second goal in the 21st minute after gaining control of the ball about 12 yards outside of South’s goal, putting the shot out of Everett’s reach.
Manhattan really took control during a three-minute sequence near the end of the first period, getting three goals and completely deflating the Titans.
Eric Gray made it 3-0 Indians on a goal in the 27th minute, firing a shot right at South’s goalkeeper, only to get the rebound on the ricochet and put away the goal.
Just one minute later, Eli Herrera put away a goal into the right side of the net on a pass from Turnley to give the Indians a four-goal lead.
Gray got a second goal less than 90 seconds later, with a ricochet of a defender that went in for a goal.
The Indians would take a 6-0 lead to halftime after Lambert’s second goal, this time on a header on an accurate cross from Michael Cossey.
The Indians added to their lead in the second period, with Lambert completing his hat trick on a breakaway from Brandon Religa. The Titans answered back in the 61st minute with a goal by Sam Avila, but Manhattan’s Austin French came back with a goal three minutes later to make it 8-1.
The two teams would trade goals in the final minutes, with South’s Trey Silmon scoring first before Kodi Minocha scored to make it 9-2.
Lopez said getting minutes for the younger players was important.
“It’s huge, because we’re going to lose a lot of seniors this year and we don’t have many juniors,” he said. “We’ll have a lot of young players next year. When you play a team like Washburn, their eyes get big.”
Defender Ibrahim Altamimi said even in a blowout win, the team got better.
“Every game you get better and every game you learn how to play with each other better,” he said. “You learn different things in every game.”
Liotta said the atmosphere was clearly different, but improvement is still the goal.
“It’s obviously a different intensity level, but we have to push ourselves to be better everyday and come out and get better,” Liotta said. “We can’t play to the level of our opponents.”
Manhattan plays Emporia on Thursday, also at Bishop Stadium.
“They’re a big team — it should be physical,” Lopez said. “We’re a team that likes to play possession. We don’t shy away from being physical, but as coaches we prefer that they not go into some of these battles. That’s how you lose guys to injuries. But it’s a league game, so it’s important.
“There’s bigger things than getting your goal or your assist. There’s championships on the line, and this team’s good enough to go get them.”