Mike Sanchez knows the Manhattan High girls’ soccer team has to play well in both halves if it wants to beat most of the quality opponents on its schedule.
Despite a good effort in the second half, it proved to be too little, too late for the Indians, who saw their losing skid continued Saturday afternoon at Anneberg Park, as the Indians fell to Blue Valley-Stilwell, 2-0.
After starting the season with three wins in a row, Saturday’s loss was the Indians’ second straight loss after falling 5-0 at Washburn Rural on Thursday evening.
It was the first half that put the Indians behind as Blue Valley secured both of its goals in the opening 40 minutes.
With the wind at their backs, the Tigers started off with a strong attack, pressuring the Indian’s defense from the opening kick.
While Manhattan’s defense was able to hold off for a while, a shot from Blue Valley forward Sarah Olsen outside the Indian’s 18-yard box in the 16th minute soared over Manhattan sophomore goalkeeper Molly Fiser and into the top left corner of the net.
“The first goal happened because our outside mid didn’t get back on defense,” Sanchez said. “We’ve just got to make sure we transition back in defense and get behind the ball, especially when we’re losing.”
The first goal was assisted by Blue Valley midfielder Makenzie Hansen.
From there, it wasn’t long before Blue Valley’s offense capitalized on another goal-scoring opportunity. In the game’s 24th minute, Blue Valley sophomore Aubrey Jensen snuck the ball into the goal after back-to-back corner kicks left the Indians jumbled in their own 18-yard-box.
The Tigers’ second goal was assisted with a quick pass from midfielder Nicole Hagel.
Though the team was didn’t complete the comeback in the second half, the effort was promising as the Indians controlled possession for the majority of the second period.
“The second half was a lot better, we came out with a lot more intensity,” Sanchez said.
Connecting passes and winning defensive battles, freshman midfielder Maddie Taylor played a key role in keeping the game from getting out of hand for the Indians.
“She’s a freshman, and right now she’s standing out amongst everybody,” Sanchez said. “She had a great game against Washburn as well, and even in that loss she just kept fighting. I think she’s got great vision, she works hard to win balls back in the attack and on defense as well.”
Finishing the game with a total of four saves, Fiser also played an important role.
“She stepped up when we needed to,” Sancehz said about Fiser, “but for us it’s really about protecting her and denying shots outside the 18-yard-box.”
In the end, it was Manhattan’s inability to finish its shots that lost the game. Manhattan finished with seven total shots, four on goal, while the Tigers took eight total shots with five on goal.
Sanchez said next week will offer more practice time as well as more things for the team to work on.
“We’ve got to be a little stronger in our final third,” Sanchez said. “We’ve got to be able to hold (the ball) a little bit longer. I think it’s been a problem for us, and it’s definitely something this next week, since we have two games, we’ll be able to hit on harder.”
The Indians host Emporia at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Anneberg Park.