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Rural shuts out Indians

By Grant Guggisberg

When the Washburn Rural and Manhattan High girls’ soccer teams get together on the pitch, the typical result is a hotly contested game.

In that regard, Thursday’s 5-0 loss to the Junior Blues was a rare occurrence.

Manhattan’s seniors had dominated the series with Rural, winning two out of three previous matchups, with the other ending in a tie.

Head coach Mike Sanchez said the difference this time was the ability to finish.

“That was the big game changer,” he said. “We weren’t able to finish goals and they were putting them away.”

Rural outshot the Indians 13-9, but did the bulk of its damage with set plays on corner kicks.

“They’re really strong,” Sanchez said. “They hammer it home with those, so they really look to get corner kicks to score goals. The first goal came on a corner kick. They had seven corners.”

Rural freshman Darby Hirsch had a hat trick for the Junior Blues, with Charly Michaelis scoring the match’s first goal midway through the first half. Melissa Walkenford had the final goal for Rural.

“Give credit where credit is due,” Sanchez said. “They came out knowing how we were going to come out, knew what formation we’d use and game planned around that. They’re a good team.”

Sanchez said the Indians switched up their strategy toward the end of the first half to try and get back in the game, but they went to halftime down 3-0.

“We switched our formation the last five or 10 minutes of the first half, to try and get a little bit defensive but also answer with a counter-attack,” he said.

Sanchez said the game still helped the team develop. Freshman midfielder Maddie Taylor played a solid game.

“We’ll come out tomorrow and work on some things that we need to fix,” he said. “One of our ninth graders who starts, she had a great game. We really got to see how dangerous she can be.”

The loss gives Rural (3-1, 2-0 Centennial) the leg up in the Centennial League race, though it’s still early.

For Manhattan (3-1, 2-1), shaking off the loss and preparing for its third game of the week, a home match against Blue Valley-Stilwell on Saturday, becomes the key.

“We will be trying to put it behind us and look forward to our Saturday game and make the appropriate adjustments,” Sanchez said. “We’re getting quality competition, which we need. That’s what the schedule is set up for, to get us ready for playoff-type competition.

“I know Stilwell is a good team, we lost to them last year in overtime, so they’ve got quality players.”

Saturday’s game is set for a 2 p.m. start at Anneberg Park.

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