The Manhattan High boys’ soccer team gave its fans a home opener to remember on Tuesday night.
Dominating in every aspect of the game, the Indians came away with a 7-0 win over Shawnee Heights at Anneberg Park.
“We always expect a good game with Shawnee Heights,” Manhattan head coach Frank Alonso said. “It’s always been that way. We tied them 1-1 last year, so this win was a surprise.”
The Indians’ first goal came in the game’s opening minute from senior midfielder Evan Williams. Williams found himself in the right spot to sneak the ball in the back of the net after the Shawnee Height keeper deflected a shot from junior forward Peter Maier.
Eight minutes later, the Indians scored their second goal. After a series of connected passes from the midfield, junior forward Eric Gray rushed the ball down the left side of the field and into Shawnee Heights’ 18-yard box, he crossed the ball as Maier rushed the goal and connected with the cross to rocket the ball into the back of the net.
Manhattan’s third goal, scored by senior forward Joseph Coonrod off a corner kick by Williams, came in the 17th minute, followed shortly by a breakaway goal from senior defender Jacob Stutheit. Stutheit’s 23rd-minute goal came only two minutes after he was subbed into the game.
Coonrod (in minute 30) and Stutheit (in minute 33) both scored their second goals of the game off breakaways. As the first half came to a close, the Indians led 6-0.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Stutheit said about his two goals. “The last game I had a goal too. I’m just coming in and trying to do my best.”
With such a large lead, Alonso had the opportunity to start his bench in the second half. Seven of Manhattan’s 11 players on the field starting the second half did not start at the beginning of the game.
The lone second-half goal came in the 37th minute when junior midfielder Kodi Minocha redirected a corner kick into the back of Shawnee Heights’ goal.
Despite the numerous chances, the Indians were unable to score the remainder of the second half.
“Overall, I was surprised,” Alonso said. “We did great, we passed the ball, and we took our chances. We scored seven goals on 16 shots, so we were very efficient.”
Alonso said playing time and experience is a great way to strengthen players who do not usually get to see that many game-time minutes.
“Our bench is going to have to produce a little bit more,” Alonso said. “They did a good job today, but our expectations are higher for them.
“What we need is for them to get closer to that top-12. We have a very good bench, but we have to get better because they are going to be the difference between us doing very well, and us just having a good season — they’re the key.”
Manhattan High has a busy week ahead as the Indians travel to Topeka Seaman on Tuesday, followed by a game at Washburn Rural on Thursday.
Alonso said the next few games for the Indians will really show what the team is made of, especially since Rural is currently ranked No. 6 in the state.
“Next week is a defining week for us,” he said. “Going 3-0 would be phenomenal, really. If we can win two next week, we’ll be one of the favorites in the Centennial League.
“It’s a very, very big week and there’s a lot on the line.”