With a barrage of goals in the first 7 minutes of the match, the Manhattan High boys’ soccer team made it clear from the start that it would not lose against Topeka High at Bishop Stadium Thursday night.
What the Indians didn’t do, however, is compete for 80 minutes with the kind of intensity and creativity their coaches expect from them every time out.
Manhattan (9-2-1) had a 3-0 lead by the sixth minute, but scored just one more goal the rest of the way in a match that started fast but ended sloppy, with the Trojans breaking up the shutout on a breakaway goal with 3 minutes to play.
Assistant coach Michael Lopez said the team lacked the creativity to score goals once Topeka High packed it in on defense.
“They made an adjustment — they dropped players behind the ball,” Lopez said. “We didn’t adjust to what they wanted to do. We stayed predictable in the things that we wanted to do, and it was pretty obvious. That was the frustration of the game — there were more goals to be had if we’re more creative.”
Manhattan still out shot the Trojans 14-2, but had several shots go right into the goalie’s hands as the Topeka High defense stiffened.
Early on, it looked as if everyone would be going home early in a mercy-rule game. The Indians scored in the second minute on a cornerkick by Jonathan Turnley, with Tyler Daveline getting the goal after several attempts to clear the ball were unsuccessful.
They scored again 2 minutes later when Eric Gray took a shot, with Kirkland Lambert getting the rebound and passing it to Peter Maier from 10 yards out for an easy goal.
Manhattan’s third and fourth goals were also by Maier, the first coming in the sixth minute and the second coming in the 23rd minute to complete his hat trick.
But the Indians would not score again.
“We wanted to bring the ball back out, try to bring them out,” Lopez said of the Trojan defenders. “Try and penetrate if you can, bring it back out, use our width and switch the field. But when you get down there, everybody starts getting goals in their eyes and everybody wants to go forward.”
Lopez said part of Thursday’s issues stemmed from the loss at Hayden on Tuesday that all-but ended any hope of a shared Centennial League title.
“I think there’s a little bit of a letdown,” he said. “They’re high school kids. How can you be mentally up for everything? It’s not over yet, but that was almost the feeling — it’s like we were in mourning a little bit.”
With an important non-league match at Wichita Northwest on Tuesday coming right up, the team won’t have much time to get their heads straight.
“The issue right now is the players were overthinking this game a little bit,” Lopez said. “I think the shock of the Hayden game got in their head a little bit, once they couldn’t score again.
“It was very easy that first 9 minutes, then all of a sudden they were being challenged. That’s the mental test we have ahead of us.”