Soccer places fifth at Titan tournament

Kris Long, Print Editor-in-Chief

Boys soccer placed fifth in the Wichita Titan Tournament last week, losing their first match to Wichita Heights 2-5 but coming back to win their next two games against Newton 4-2 and Liberal 6-1. They are now 2-1-1 going in their second week of the season.

“It’s an improvement, I think, for a younger squad,” head coach Mike Sanchez said. “They did a good job… I think it’s positive.”

Manhattan played Wichita Heights in their first game of the season, tying them 1-1 after taking the lead in the first half before losing last Tuesday. They let two early goals in and never recovered a lead despite seniors Grant Snowden and Ibrahim Ciftci both scoring. 

“We could have played a lot better in our first game,” Snowden said. “We tied them earlier so we knew we could have beat them… I think Wichita Heights is just more physical…  our team is so small that sometimes we struggle with physicality. So, when they come out there being more physical than us, it makes it tough for us to get a lot of good scoring opportunities.”

The boys came back to finish the tournament strong with their first two wins of the season against Newton and Liberal on Thursday and Saturday respectively. They took the lead early against Newton with a hat trick from Snowden and sophomore Carter Ohme adding another to make it four goals as well as improving their overall defensive showing. MHS repeated the good start against Liberal in the final match with goals from Snowden, Ohme, sophomore Ged Comiso, senior Marco Zamborano and a brace from sophomore Jimmy Ramirez. 

“I think finishing out that tournament with two wins was really huge for us,” Snowden said. “Because now I think we got a little bit of confidence and we can get on a little bit of a roll here going into the remainder of the regular season.”

Manhattan is young and small compared to other teams in the region, but the new younger players are coming out of a JV team that won all 13 of their matches last year — a feat that has never been accomplished by a MHS soccer team, varsity or JV, before — so they hope to match other teams’ physicality with skill.

“Since we know that we’re not going to be much taller or stronger than most teams this year just because we’re so small that we’re going to have to really move the ball around and find little pockets to get in and out of,” Snowden said. “So I think just keeping possession and finding some holes in the defense is going to be really big for us this year.”

They play their first home game of the season against Wichita South on Tuesday. There will only be a Varsity game because Wichita does not have enough players to fill two squads.

“Hopefully the boys don’t go in taking anybody lightly,” Sanchez said. “The expectation is for us to just play our game.”