For the second time in three years, the Manhattan High girls’ soccer team is among the last four still standing after 10 days of playoff soccer.
Joining Maize, Blue Valley Northwest and Blue Valley North, the Indians know they have their work cut out for them. From here on out, there will be no easy games or overmatched opponents.
Coach Mike Sanchez said the key at this point is to make sure and not waste any opportunities.
“We have to prepare and take advantage of our opportunities when they arise,” Sanchez said after his team defeated Wichita Heights, 2-1, in the state quarterfinals on Tuesday. “The best team is going to win there. Everybody had to earn their way there.”
Manhattan opens with Blue Valley North at 7 p.m. Friday, a team that defeated Centennial League champion Washburn Rural 1-0 to advance to Wichita. Sanchez admitted he and his team would have liked to see Rural instead after dropping a game in April to the Junior Blues, 5-0.
“Washburn Rural is a phenomenal team, we would have loved to play them again,” Sanchez said. “Blue Valley North, I know they have some really talented players, just being a club coach. I’m aware of who they have and it will be a challenge for us.”
Freshman defender Lani Fischer said she is expecting a tough road at state.
“Just mentally preparing yourself for all the challenges you’ll face,” Fischer said. “The games aren’t going to be easy now, so you have to work hard and stay on top of your game.”
Senior Kayla Faust said there are off-the-field distractions as well.
“Being focused, with the bus ride there and the hotel, trying to focus through that on games that are going to be really tough,” Faust said. “We’ll have to play our best to put them away.
“Some of the teams that were in the (round of) eight we’ve played before. So we know some of the style and just how hard it’s going to be. It’s such a big stage, everybody’s watching you.”
Should Manhattan (14-4) advance past Blue Valley North (14-4-1) to the state championship game on Saturday, they’d play at 2 p.m. against either Maize (17-2) or Blue Valley Northwest (13-5-1). The third-place game is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. All games are held at Wichita Heights High School in northeast Wichita.
Indians earn all-league, all-region honors
The postseason accolades have started to roll in for Manhattan, despite the season still going strong this weekend.
Among All-Centennial teams, Bailey Snyder and Jennifer Then each made the first team, while Emma Samenus, Allison Taylor and Par McNair each were named to the second team.
Among All-Central Region teams, Snyder and Then were each named to the first team, while Taylor and Samenus were named to the second team.