Soccer falls to Washburn

Kris Long, Sports Editor

Girls soccer took their first loss of the season against rivals Washburn Rural on Thursday in a close match that ended 2-3.

Rural is one of the best teams in the state and the most competitive team Manhattan plays outside of the Kansas City area. They’ve won the Centennial League every year since 2016, so MHS was expecting a challenging game. The loss likely decided the Centennial League title for Washburn again this season.

“They have a very distinct style of play and they’re very competitive just like us,” junior Ella Rullifson said. “They play a specific way that’s hard to beat.”

Manhattan and Washburn have a long-standing rivalry, but Rural has gotten the better end of it in recent years. MHS won against them in 2016 and tied in 2012, but have lost the rest of their matches since then.

“We’ve always hated them,” junior Marlee Hodges said. “They’re mean, their coach is mean, they play a way that makes us play down to their level and it’s hard to come back from that.”

The match was scoreless until a goal at the beginning of the second half from freshman Reese Snowden, but Manhattan gave up their lead from two consecutive Washburn goals soon after. In the last ten minutes, MHS tied it up with a penalty earned by freshman Maura Wiens and converted by freshman Emery Rullifson but conceded again before the whistle blew to end 2-3. All of the Junior Blue’s goals were scored from set pieces, showcasing the kind of play Manhattan avoids themselves and finds difficult to play against.

“We played well for the first 20 minutes, it was pretty evenly matched,” head coach Mike Sanchez said. “We came out early in the second half and went up 1-0 and then kind of let up… I would say they probably won the second half. We weren’t consistent, which is something that we can take away from it and work on.”

It was a tough game to lose, especially by such a close margin, but the girls still have most of the season — and potentially a rematch — ahead of them.

“I would say that in the first 20 minutes we definitely were the better team,” Rullifson said. “Then after that, they came ready to play. They came and they really showed us that they wanted it more and I think our energy dropped, and we didn’t have the energy or the desire as much as we needed throughout the entire game.”

MHS will play Emporia next at home on Tuesday.

“I’m super excited,” Hodges said. “I love playing Emporia and I’m excited because it’s our first home game.”