Soccer ends season at regional final

Kris Long, Opinions Editor

The boys Varsity soccer team came up short against their last opponent of the season in the regional final on Thursday night. The team lost to Wichita East — the first seed in the region and a team that beat Manhattan High 2-0 earlier in the season — 2-1 away on Halloween.

After taking the win against ninth seed Haysville Campus at home Tuesday night in the first leg of regionals, MHS — who were ranked eighth — were matched with the first seed. 

“We ended up, unfortunately, on a really bad path through the postseason having to play …  the one seed team,” senior Brendan Mummert said. “I think it’s unfortunate how that happened. But I know that as a team we got a lot better [this season] and, if maybe one game went another way, we’d still be playing right now.”

The team had been practicing in the cold for the match against Wichita, learning their playing style and preparing to overcome the challenge of coming back to beat Wichita.

“In [the team’s] minds they felt like they were beatable,” head coach Mike Sanchez said. “We gave [Wichita] … their two closest games [of the season].” 

Wichita got onto the board early, just eight minutes in, putting Manhattan behind from the beginning of the game. French tied East up directly after going down, getting MHS back into the game. In the 27th minute MHS went down again to Wichita, but this time couldn’t make up the difference making it 2-1 at the half.

“[At halftime] I just told them that we were still in it,” Sanchez said. “We had a lot of game to play, we had 40 minutes left we were still in it and I told them to go out there and leave it all out there on the field.”

Neither team could put it in the back of the net during the second half, ending the game as it stood at halftime.

“It really came down in the end to two mistakes,” Mummert said. “It was two mistakes in the first half that cost two goals, which just ended up being the game changer … We knew it would be a close one, considering how close we played them earlier in the year, and we knew we couldn’t make those mistakes. But unfortunately, we just made one more than the other team and that’s how it ended.”

It was a close match, with chances about equal on both sides and neither team dominating possession. 

“I think it could have gone either way,” Mummert said. “I think we could have won that game … but that’s how it ends sometimes. Sometimes, you put your all in and you still can’t get the result.”

The team came a long way throughout 2019, beginning their first match on Aug. 30 with a new coach and an almost entirely new starting line-up. Towards the beginning of the season Manhattan was 4-5, they ended the season 11-6 — quite an achievement.  

“We lost thirteen seniors last year and honestly, I think … we still succeeded [this season] tremendously more than, personally, I thought we would,” French said.

The team also had to adjust to Sanchez’s new playing style.

“I’m extremely proud of the boys and I know that we’re going to miss these seniors greatly,” Sanchez said.  They were a tremendous part of the team. I felt like they helped establish a new culture and style of play which is not easy to come in and do. [It’s difficult to] have someone come in their senior year and try to change things up.”

The loss was naturally disappointing to the players — especially the seniors.

“That was my last time playing with a lot of those guys, even though I’m going to see them at school it’s different because I’m not going to practice with them, I’m not going to have games with them,” Mummert said. “Thinking about all the boys and the relationships I made with them this year, in the last four years …  it’s weird knowing that … it’s going to be different now.”