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Offensive barrage sends Squires past Wildcats

GOAL: Manchester’s Caleb Stout scores his first of three goals on Wednesday against Whitko.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@wabashplaindealer.com

The Manchester boys’ soccer team knows it’s in the home stretch of the Three Rivers Conference (TRC) season and with distance between the Squires and the pack, finishing off contests like Wednesday’s will be imperative for Manchester to grasp the conference crown again.

Hosting Whitko, Manchester scored early and often on the night, laying seven goals on the Wildcats on either side of the halftime break for a commanding 14-0 win.

“They kept their level up no matter who was in there,” Manchester head coach Dave McKee said. “We ended the whole game with JV players and most of the second half was played (with JV players). We’d keep a few varsity players in there for transition and to teach the younger players where to go and what to do.”

Manchester’s onslaught led to 32 shots on goal with numerous other attempts careening off the woodwork. A barrage of goals early made the difference on the night. Justin Self opened the scoring before Caleb Stout and Isaiah Davis for a succession of goals in the opening minutes.

Stout would notch the next two goals to secure his first-half hat-trick as the Squires carried a 7-0 lead into the break.

For McKee, flying out of the gates was not only a focus on Wednesday night but for every game this season.

“That’s our plan for every game is to score early and get our opponents frustrated,” he said. “It was no different today. We took it like any other game. I told the guys this is a conference game so we’ll start out like any other game and then we’ll change things as we go along if we need to.

“It’s very important,” McKee added about closing out conference play strong. “Conference is the first thing we have to finish then we look to sectionals.”

The second half saw a host of Squires score as nine total players found the back of the net on the night for Manchester. On the night as a whole, A.J. Fortman and Dyson Rosen notched their first career goals with the latter scoring twice.

Davis and Brandon Wagoner each scored twice as well while Self, Michael Wirsing, Harley Kruschwitz and Mathias McLaughlin all scoring once. Kruschwitz and Self each added three assists while Stout set up a pair of goals. Davis and Wagoner each had one assist.

Manchester is now 8-0 on the season overall and 4-0 in Three Rivers Conference play.

Manchester will be off until next week when they host Lakeland Christian Academy on Tuesday afternoon.