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Five-goal first half sends Manchester past Peru

SPACE: Peru midfielder Filip Vukanovic (23) looks for a pass upfield duringthe sectional boys’ soccer match Wednesday night against Manchester.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@wabashplaindealer.com

BUNKER HILL – The eyes of Manchester’s boys’ soccer team have long been focused on a rematch with Class 2A No. 9 Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran. With just one last hurdle between them and the Cadets, there was little Peru could do on Wednesday to stop them.

In the sectional semi-final at Maconaquah, Class 2A No. 11 Manchester scored five times in the first half before cruising through the second half, setting up a rematch in the sectional final with a 6-0 win.

“It’s a good a win,” Manchester head coach Dave McKee said. “It’s always a good win when you win in the sectional. Our play wasn’t the greatest today. We have Thursday and Friday to fix a couple things.”

For Peru, while the score line would be unflattering for some, the six-goal margin represented a drastic improvement from the 14-0 the Squires handed the Tigers two weeks ago.

“Well, we played a lot better this game than when we played them a couple weeks ago,” head coach Nate Campbell said. “For us to cut that more than in half, I couldn’t be any prouder of the team. They battled the whole game.”

Caleb Stout continued his scoring rampage on the season with the opening goal just shy of seven minutes into the night with a curling effort into the side netting. His second goal would come eight minutes later on a corner kick as a Michael Learned flick-on at the near post met Stout at the far post, the junior taping the ball into an open net.

Isaiah Davis then nabbed a pair of goals in quick succession, first scoring with a left-footed effort from 15 yards out before lashing home a thunderous shot for his two goals in a span of 2:30.

Brandon Wagoner capped off the scoring in the first half in impressive style, dribbling the length of the field on a Squire counter attack before finishing near post to push Manchester ahead 5-0 with 13:23 left.

Peru would slowly grow into the game before their best chance of the night came as a breakdown in the Squire defense saw keeper Konrad Borgmann come out and miss a through pass. The Tiger shot, though, would be dragged wide and Peru would not see a better look on net.

The Tigers would, however, stiffen up defensively in the second half as Manchester shifted into cruise control to see out the win. The lone second-half goal came off a corner with Stout sending a loose ball in front of goal into the net for his hat trick.

Peru’s stronger defensive performance came as a result of tactical changes, according to Campbell.

“The same guys (played) pretty much, just a little bit of moving around,” he said. “We had a man mark on (Davis) in the middle because he was killing us in the midfield. I put one of the guys on him and told him ‘That’s your man. Guard him and don’t let him out of sight.’ I probably should have done that in the first half.”

Peru’s attack, though, could get little going as Manchester’s defense and Borgmann continually snuffed out Tiger chances. The shutout by Borgmann in net was his 11th of the season, breaking the school record.

Manchester improves to 16-0 on the season with the win. Despite all the records broken and trophies captured in the season, McKee and his side know how important Saturday’s showdown is.

“It’s the season,” he said. “It’s the season come Saturday. It’s for all the marbles. The guys are pretty pumped. We’ve watched them play twice now and they’re a good team. But we’re a good team also. We’re going to go out and fight with everything we have.”

Kick-off for the match-up at Maconaquah is set for 7 p.m.

Tippecanoe Valley 0-8 No. 9 Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran

The Cadets only managed a 2-0 lead at halftime against the Vikings but poured it on in the second half to become the first team in the Maconaquah Sectional Final.

Adam Gottschalk led Concordia Lutheran with a hat trick while Tumi Malatse added a brace and Ryan Hoffman, Elijah Macke and Mason Kaschinske added a goal apiece.