Manchester Soccer Upsets No. 5 Lenawee Christian

By: Seth Kinker,

 The Manchester Boys Soccer team got its revenge on Oct. 4 traveling to Lenawee Christian and defeating the Cougars 3-2.

In the first matchup between these two rivals earlier this season, the Cougars traveled to Manchester High School and defeated the Dutchmen 4-3. The Dutchmen were able to tie the game late in the second half with a flurry of goals at three apiece, but the Cougars scored with about a minute left to seal the 4-3 win.

On Oct. 4, it was a similar story for these two teams. Both playing within their style, the Dutchmen playing behind the ball and quickly countering, and the Cougars looking to switch the field and get the ball to their playmakers, juniors Zach Riordan and Tucker Rupp.

The Dutchmen controlled the first ten minutes of the game with their best chance came in the seventh minute. Senior midfielder Calvin Daniels found senior forward Lenin Fierro streaking forward and he got off a shot within the 18-yard box, but it was deflected out.

Senior goalkeeper Brayden Hayes came out in the fourteenth minute, sliding out to make a stop. Hayes made seven saves in the first half and made many more important saves in the second.

Hayes, a first-year senior player, is playing goalkeeper after senior foreign exchange student and goalkeeper Filipo Garzotto returned home at the end of last season.

“Brayden is just a great guy,” said senior defender Owen Whitney. “He works hard and he’s very athletic, that works well. At the beginning of the season we kind of recruited him, we’re best friends with him and we got him to play and he’s doing very well. He’s focused and determined and that’s what we need right now.”

Over the next ten minutes, the Cougars won the possession battle, Hayes came out in the twenty-first minute to make a sliding stop against Rupp, Riordan found Rupp two minutes later, but the shot went barely wide.

The Dutchmen had a lot of chances on set pieces up to that point, but most went over the crossbar. With 12:06 remaining in the half Fierro took a throw-in and took on two or three Cougar defenders in the box. After making his way past them, he calmly poked the ball to the right of the goalkeeper for the 1-0 lead.

With eight minutes remaining before halftime, Hayes had one more big save, diving right for a close shot attempt from Riordan.

At halftime Dutchmen head coach Travis Baker told the team to continue to do what they were doing, he was happy with the few attempts they had given up in the first half and with Hayes performance.

Coming out of halftime the Dutchmen seized momentum scoring the first two goals of the second half. The first, to make the game 2-0, was Daniels with 33:17 remaining. Unassisted, he took on Cougar defenders before faking a shot in the box that got him one on one with the keeper.

The third Dutchmen goal came with 24:59 left in the game. Junior midfielder Jake Rowader received a pass from senior defender Owen Whitey after a poor clearance from the Cougars. Rowader turned and hit the perfect shot, striking the right post before going in to make it 3-0 in favor of the Dutchmen.

Five minutes later, the Cougars would score two quick goals, the first by Rupp and the second from Brennan Griffith to make it 3-2 with still 20 minutes remaining.

“It was mostly legs,” said Baker on the two quick Cougar goals. “We didn’t sub, and we hit a little bit of a bump on that side of it, then Calvin cramps up and we have to adjust things on that side. Then it was a matter of managing the game and killing it off on that side of it. I have to watch the goals back but one I know we were able to play out but didn’t relieve the pressure enough to allow us to get upfield and put us right back under pressure and get that goal (for them). Simple fix.”

“My main focus was getting everyone stepping up and stepping to the ball,” added Whitney when asked about his thoughts after giving up two quick goals. “Because they took multiple shots, and really, its intensity in the end because when we’re clearing it we have to get up there and pressure it, so they can’t get out. I thought we all did very well with that. Had to make a few changes with Lenny coming back to attacking mid but I think he played very well and kept the intensity there.”

At that point the Cougars had all the momentum and then with 12:37 remaining, Daniels went down with a cramp and did not return. The Dutchmen defense held off an onslaught of attempts by the Cougars for the remaining time to claim the victory.

The Dutchmen were proud to hold Riordan, a top area player, scoreless in the rematch.

“We locked him down, he didn’t get a goal which is fantastic for us,” said Whitney.

“Really just focused on playing hard and in our shape,” continued Whitney on what the Dutchmen were looking to do coming into the game. “That was a big problem for us in all of our losses when we didn’t play in our shape.

The Dutchmen have two games remaining before postseason play begins Oct. 15, a third matchup of the season between the Cougars and the Dutchmen in the opening round of District play.

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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