After playing in frigid temperatures, rain and high winds, the Manhattan High girls’ soccer team is finally getting into a groove after a weather-plagued spring season.
The Indians (11-4), winners of three straight, will enter the playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the Central region and open against sixth-seeded Topeka High (7-9) in the opening round tonight at 6 at Anneberg Park.
MHS defeated Topeka in the season opener for both teams back in March, winning 4-0 in a game that the Indians dominated in the second half.
The first match was scoreless through the entire first half before the Indians flipped the switch and started playing the way they’re capable. MHS struggled similarly in a 2-1 win over Shawnee Heights last week, with Sanchez giving basically the same halftime speech he did two months ago against the Trojans.
“We’re 15 games in, it’s usually the same thing,” Sanchez said last week. “They already know what I’m going to say. I think they just dug deep and it’s senior night, so they realized they needed to come out and get it right away.”
Should the Indians advance past the Trojans in tonight’s playoff opener, they would likely travel to second-seeded Junction City (12-3) on Thursday for a rematch of a tight game played last week.
MHS won 1-0 in double overtime last week against the Blue Jays, scoring a goal in the final 30 seconds of the match that otherwise would have ended in a tie. With a solid defense, the Blue Jays are much improved and will be a tough challenge, should the two teams meet.
“They have a strong team,” Sanchez said. “Since I’ve been apart of soccer here in Manhattan, they’ve been improving. It was definitely a lot different game than the two times we saw them last year.”
With the longstanding rivalry between Junction City and Manhattan, Thursday’s potential matchup would not lack motivation from either squad, especially with a spot in the quarterfinals up for grabs.
But first, the Indians must take care of business against a Topeka High squad that gave tested them early in the season — for a half, anyway.