Soccer fans who didn’t travel to Manhattan High’s match at Washburn Rural Thursday probably regret not making the trip.
The two teams went back and forth in the second half, scoring four goals in a span of seven minutes.
“I nearly had a heart attack through that second half,” MHS coach Frank Alonso said. “There were goals flying in every time I turned around. It was a great game.”
After allowing a goal in the first two minutes against rival Washburn Rural, it looked as if the Manhattan High boys’ soccer team was in for a tough night against the defending Centennial League champs.
Instead, Manhattan became the aggressor, outshooting Rural 17-6 over the course of the night while taking the lead twice in the second half. Trailing 1-0 at halftime, Manhattan’s Jonathan Turnley scored the first of his two goals on an assist from Peter Maier in the fifth minute of the second half.
Twelve minutes later, Turnley added a penalty kick to give MHS a 2-1 lead. Then madness ensued.
Rural scored on a penalty kick by Brady Drane in the 22nd minute of the second half, followed by an Eric Gray goal one minute later, staking Manhattan back to a lead. One minute after that, Rural caught a break and scored on an own goal to tie the game at 3, which proved to be the final score after double overtime.
“It was an unfortunate deflection that was just too quick for our goalie to react to and ended up in the back of the net,” Matt Liotta said of the own goal. “It wasn’t any one player’s fault.”
Manhattan goalkeeper Kai Reever had four saves on the night.
“That’s one of the best games I’ve been involved with as a coach in the last 12 years, I can tell you that,” Alonso said. “Just an unbelievable game.”
Washburn Rural came out of the gates and controlled the game in the first 20 minutes before Manhattan started playing to its potential.
“Once we settled down and understood that we had to get ourselves under control,” Alonso said, “from the 20-minute mark of the first half through the rest of the game — I don’t use this word very often, but we were magnificent.”
To play so well against one of the toughest teams they’ll play all year was a huge positive for the Indians, though a tie certainly isn’t the desired result.
“I’ve never seen a game like that before in my life,” Jonathan Taylor said. “We controlled the game most of the time, and it’s disappointing that we couldn’t finish it off. When you go to double overtime, or any game like that, you want to finish it with a win instead of a tie.”
Liotta echoed his teammate’s feelings.
“To play that well and come away with a tie leaves a little bit of a sour taste in your mouth,” he said. “But I know we’ll see them again in the near future and I’m looking forward to it.”
With the tie, neither team has an edge over the other in the Centennial League race, which is still wide open at this point in the season.
Alonso was especially proud of his team for going toe-to-toe with such a highly-ranked team.
“They’re a really good team,” he said. “They’re ranked third in the state and we’re ranked seventh, I think. So it lived up to the billing. We were very unlucky not to win.”