Hunter French, Effiong

Senior forward Hunter French (10) and Gabe Effiong (11) position themselves for a counter against Lawrence High on Aug. 30. French scored the game-winning goal in the second overtime of Thursday’s contest at Great Bend. MHS won 2-1.

It was up to Caleb DeLoach to save the game for Manhattan High in the team’s 2-1 win at Great Bend Thursday night. Great Bend caught Manhattan on a counter in the second overtime period. Manhattan’s legs were feeling the fatigue as Great Bend broke free on an attack that forced DeLoach, the Indians’ junior goalkeeper, into a one-on-one situation.

“He came out, won the ball and the other guy kind of fell over him,” Manhattan head coach Michael Sanchez said. “It was a great save. He got up and punted it.”

The madness wasn’t over just yet. Manhattan (4-2-0) got one last chance in that second period of extra time after not converting on the many second-half opportunities it created when senior forward Hunter French was fouled in the box with 44 seconds left.

French was awarded a penalty kick and made it count, finding the back of the net and securing the win for Manhattan.

“Their performance shows a lot of mental toughness, because a lot of times when you are fatigued, you get lazy or get caught taking breaks at the wrong time,” Sanchez said. “So it just shows how much resilience we really have. We faced some adversity earlier in the year with a couple losses that we weren’t prepared to handle. I think we are starting to realize who we are and what our identity is.”

Though only five games into the season, Manhattan has already displayed how it reacts to adversity. The team suffered losses to Wichita East and Wichita Heights, but responded with a three-game winning streak. This is quite similar to how it went down against Great Bend.

Great Bend scored first, making it 1-0 with six minutes left in the first half.

Sanchez went into halftime confident his team was going to win, and even proposed a goal.

“I said, ‘(Let’s win) 3-1, but I’ll take 2-1,’” Sanchez said, jokingly. “We were down at the half, but I think we responded well. In OT, I think both teams were pretty tired. First OT we were pretty good, but the second one we were taking it to our legs a bit.”

The Manhattan defense, anchored by DeLoach, senior defender Brendan Mummert and junior defender Danny Tamura, shut out Great Bend for the remainder of the match.

“We responded in the second half and were able to tie it up,” Sanchez said. “It was a free kick. (Senior midfielder) Carter (Wiens) took it and Hunter got his head on it and it bounced off the post, then (junior midfielder) Cole Schmitt followed it up. It was a fun sequence. Second half we had a lot of opportunities, we just couldn’t break one in.”

French, junior forward Gabe Effiong and senior forward Roberto Maysonet Perez got a lot of those opportunities for Manhattan, contributing to a starting lineup that played heavy minutes.

“I thought we played well,” Sanchez said. “We are starting to really adjust to the style of play, building out of the back and being patient in our play and possession. We are still working on some things defensively on a unit, but I think we are getting there.”