For the Manhattan High boys’ soccer team, the seemingly never-ending road trip is finally over.
With a 1-0 win at Emporia Thursday night, the Indians now host five of their last six regular-season games to wrap up their season after playing only two at home through the first 10.
Head coach Frank Alonso is ready to play some tough games at Anneberg Park knowing his team gets an edge in front of its home crowd.
“Even just from a mental and physical standpoint, I do think it’s nice that we can settle into a schedule,” he said. “Obviously we’ve been road warriors, which is just the way it worked out with the schedule.”
In a tight defensive battle Thursday, Manhattan’s Evan Williams scored in the 35th minute of the first half on an assist from Jacob Stutheit.
That would prove to be enough for the Indians, who shut out the Spartans with a 12-5 shot advantage and a three-save performance from goalkeeper Kai Reever.
“It was a pretty even game in the first half,” Alonso said. “Possession-wise, we had most of the chances. But Evan had a nice goal from a pass from Jacob.”
With 12 shots and only one goal, the efficiency of the offense continues to be an issue for the Indians, though none of that really matters as long as the team keeps winning, especially against tough teams.
“Our intensity early wasn’t very good, but second half, no complaints,” he said. “But they were considerably better than their record suggested.”
The win closes a long week for the Indians, making trips on Tuesday and Thursday and earning hard-fought victories.
“We did what we had to do, coming off a tough loss against Great Bend and showed some character this week,” Alonso said. “Now we’ve got a huge game on Tuesday and that’s what we need to think about. We’re in a position where we can control our own destiny in the league.”
Manhattan (7-2-1, 3-0-1 Centennial) is keeping pace in the league title chase, but will need a good performance to keep it going against Topeka Hayden (7-1), which travels to the Little Apple on Tuesday.
“We’ve got a big game Tuesday and we’d love to have a lot of support,” Alonso said. “I’m hoping we can get a lot of people out there. You win that game, we feel like we have a chance to at least have a tie for the title. It’s not going to be easy, but it should be a phenomenal game.”
The varsity match is scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. at Anneberg Park.