Playing its last non-league game of the year, the Manhattan High boys’ soccer team got its shot at one of the top teams in Class 6A in a matchup with Wichita Northwest.
The result was a 3-0 loss, in what had the look of a close match despite the lopsided score.
“The boys played hard,” Manhattan coach Frank Alonso said. “But it is a loss. We haven’t had a loss like that for two or three years, at least. Our pride is hurt, but I’m confident we can bounce back from this and get ready for the playoffs.”
Manhattan had several of its key players out with sickness or playing not at 100 percent, which contributed to the score, though the game was tightly contested most of the night.
“We have some illness going through our team, so some of our starters didn’t even travel,” Alonso said. “We’ve got guys that can hardly breathe out their noses because they’re so congested. (Northwest) is really good, and it was a tight game.”
The Grizzlies scored in the 33rd minute of the first half to take a 1-0 lead to halftime.
Northwest then scored again 6 minutes into the second period and padded its lead with 8 minutes left in the match to secure the win.
“All three goals were our mistakes, so we feel like the things that went wrong are correctable,” Alonso said. “Defensively, it sounds crazy allowing three goals, but we didn’t play that badly. It was a tight game — 3-0 sounds like we just got a shellacking, but it really wasn’t like that. It was a playoff type of game.”
Alonso said he thinks his team will be better prepared should the two teams meet again in the playoffs.
“They are a potential playoff team for us,” he said. “And we feel like we have a shot against them should we see them again.”
The possibility isn’t out of the question. KSHSAA has implemented a new playoff system for soccer that divides 6A in half, East and West and seed them 1-16. In the case of Manhattan (9-3-1), they’ll compete for a top seed in the West region, likely behind Washburn Rural and Wichita Northwest. Alonso said he expects to be as high as a No. 3 seed and as low as a No. 6 seed, with three winnable matches left on the schedule prior to the start of the playoffs.
“We feel like we’re going to finish 12-3-1 on the season and we could be a fourth, a fifth or even a sixth seed,” he said. “It’s a real log jam up top. We’ll see what happens. We’ll have a much better idea of where we stand early next week.”
Manhattan hosts Highland Park on Thursday at Bishop Stadium for senior night.