Girls soccer places fourth at state

Kris Long, Sports Editor

After an impressive 14-5 season, Manhattan High girls soccer placed last in the state tournament on Saturday, losing to Shawnee Mission East on Friday 1-2 in the semifinal and Washburn Rural 1-3 in the final. 

“It wasn’t our day,” head coach Mike Sanchez said after the final. “That’s how the game is, it can be great to you, it can be cruel to you. Yesterday we hit the crossbar twice and hit the goalie once…  we just didn’t get the great opportunities we had hoped.”

Taking on Shawnee in the semifinal, the girls played one of the most evenly matched games of their season. Both teams got multiple shots on goal, and Manhattan kept possession most of the game. 

“I’m proud of our girls,” Sanchez said. “A loss isn’t what we want but I’m definitely proud of the way they came out and played.”

MHS went down in the mid-first half, then gave up a penalty ten minutes later. Sophomore goalie Taylor McHugh was sent off temporarily with a yellow for stopping a goal-scoring opportunity, leaving freshmen defender Maura Wiens in goal for the penalty kick as the team has no Varsity backup goalie. Wiens managed to save Shawnee’s shot, keeping MHS in the game.

The team took the momentum from the saved penalty to even the score with a goal from Emory Ruliffson soon after. Manhattan conceded the match-deciding goal in the mid-second half, and worked for the rest of the match to tie it up. 

“I think all second half we really felt like it was going to come,” Sanchez said. “We felt like we were going to get one, and, eventually, we just ran out of time… we had some good chances, Taylor, made some good saves we had one just circle, hit the crossbar and literally fall down on [the Shawnee goalkeeper’s] leg… but they played great.”

Rival Washburn Rural lost 0-6 to Blue Valley West in their semifinal, but rebounded in their match against Manhattan. MHS lost to Washburn in the regular season and haven’t beaten them since 2016. 

“We definitely get in our heads when we play against them,” Wiens said. “I was excited to beat them [when I heard we were playing Rural], because we lost to them in the regular season. I thought we could win.”

Manhattan went down early in the first and the score was 2-0 by half time. Though they put up a solid defense, the team struggled to even get the ball into Washburn’s half. This continued through the second, though Wiens scored towards the end of the game to end it 3-1. Senior Reagan Giesbrecht fought to beat the season goals record she matched at 27 in the Wichita Northwest State quarterfinal, but couldn’t get it in the back of the net.

“It’s just really disappointing,” senior Faith Beyer said after the final. “I know all of us seniors wanted to go out winning more than we did this weekend, but I’m still really proud of our team and how hard we fought this season. We overcame a lot of things so I’m still really proud of us.”

Manhattan only had four seniors — Beyer, Giesbrecht, Marleigh Hutchinson and Joydan Browna. With a young team making it to state, MHS left this year with high hopes for next season.

“I know [the seniors] are gonna be tough to replace, not only from a playing standpoint but a leadership standpoint, Sanchez said. “They stepped up, you know, they had worked through a pandemic and lost the season last year and came out, set goals and accomplished those goals, goals, they feel a little bit short but they’re resilient.”