MHS soccer team becomes runner-up in state tournament

Kris Long, Staff Writer

For the third time in program history, Manhattan’s boys soccer team placed second in the state tournament on Saturday in Olathe.

The 18-3 team finished one place better than last year, but it’s still a disappointment for a team that traveled in a bus that had “Fight for Frank” written on the windows in honor of head coach Frank Alonso, who wasn’t able to attend the match due to his battle with  stage IV pancreatic cancer.

“We’re fighting for [Frank Alonso] and I think that really showed,” Seth Yurgel, assistant coach, said.

Manhattan won the Regional championship last week against Dodge City taking them to state two years consecutively for the first time. They played in the semifinal on Friday against Shawnee Mission East who proved to be a very even match to Manhattan.

Throughout the whole of regulation time and overtime the game was in a deadlock. Each team had very strong defensive lines that allowed few shots on goal. Caleb DeLoach, sophomore starting keeper, had one of his best matches of the season with eight saves in total. Max Lansdowne, senior starting forward, also played well and had a few shots on target throughout the night.

There were a few hair-raising moments when the game looked like it was over for Manhattan which Shawnee sent wide, including one in sudden victory overtime. Shawnee put a ball past DeLoach while Manhattan fans watched in horror as the ball rolled into the left corner only for the goal to be disallowed because of an offside. The overtime was also scoreless so it went to penalties.

The stadium held its breath as each penalty kick was taken, the first taken by Shawnee Mission and it bounced off the top bar. Manhattan already had the advantage when Carter Wiens, junior starting midfielder, took his penalty, which was saved by the Shawnee keeper, equalizing the two teams again.

Finally, with the teams tied on penalties with one more round to go. DeLoach saved a penalty, giving Manhattan a chance to win it. The last kicker up was senior starting center-back Rafael Cuevas, who tricked the keeper into diving left. The crowd roared as he rolled it into the right side and Manhattan was going to the final.

The final took place on Saturday a 2 p.m. in Olathe against Olathe East High (16-3-1). Unfortunately, the final did not go Manhattan’s way.

Olathe scored from a scramble in the box and from that moment one could see the tiredness in the team from the previous game.

“We were tired from playing a 105 minute game yesterday and if we hadn’t been the result would’ve been different,” French said.

In the second half Olathe scored again to seal Manhattan’s fate. When the whistle finally blew, the Manhattan team crumpled to the ground in disappointment and disbelief. Their faces were wet and red as they were presented the second place trophy and medals. The Olathe team’s fans rushed onto the field while the Manhattan team made their way to the bench.

“I really thought we would come out on top,” French said. “I’m obviously disappointed that we didn’t win but we had one of the best seasons in MHS history beating all kinds of records.”

French himself beat the program record for goals scored in a season and Lansdowne beat the school record for career goals and Wiens beat the State 6A record for assists in a season.

“It’s a better finish than what we had last year, it’s not what we wanted, what we wanted was, obviously, the championship,” Yurgel said. “Hopefully we’ll be back next year and congratulations to these seniors. They’ve done a lot for this program.”

With eight of the starting 11 graduating this year the team playing in 2019 will be very different.

“Next year we’re hoping to come back here again, but we’ll take nothing for granted,” Yurgel said.