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Garriott's brace sends Squires past Whitko

PASS: Manchester’s Emma Garriott (left) jumps over a pass from Bailey Mooney (right) during the second half of Wednesday’s game against Whitko.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@wabashplaindealer.com

While Manchester girls’ soccer head coach Jen Birch gave her side a spirited halftime talk off the field, it was Emma Garriott who provided the punch on it.

Moments after a halftime break that preceded what Birch called a “lackadaisical” first half, Garriott would bag a goal to give the Squires a lead that would carry through to the final whistle as the hosts walked away with a 2-0 Three Rivers Conference (TRC) win.

“Obviously a much better second half than the first,” Birch said of her team’s performance. “We came out kind of lackadaisical and lethargic. It took a good pep talk at halftime for us to get our focus and get after it and start doing the things we should. We focus a lot on the little things and we started to do that in the second half. Once you get that first goal, it’s a big confidence boost so then they were playing a lot more intense and aggressive after that first one.”

With the two sides knotted at 0-0 after the first half, Garriott came out firing in the second 40 minutes. The sophomore collected a pass from Lainey Shock outside of the penalty box before looping a high-arching shot over the keeper and into the goal for the opener.

Minutes later, Garriott latched onto a rolling ball deep in Whitko territory, round the on-rushing keeper and finish into the back of the net, giving Manchester a 2-0 lead less than ten minutes into the half.

“Our emotion goes with the scoring,” Birch said. “If we get scored on, our heads drop. If we score first, it gives you the momentum and confidence to keep going. The first shot from outside the 18 (yard box) was just a beautiful shot off a great cross. That was awesome to see and built the momentum and then for her to break away, cut it outside and finish into the back of the net is just excited. It’s fun to see the girls truly cheer and be happy for one another on the field.”

The two goals would be all Manchester needed on the night as the Squire defense limited to Whitko to just two shots through the entire 80 minutes, giving Manchester its second TRC win in three games.

With just four games left in the season, three of them being TRC duels, Birch and her side are focused on finishing the conference season strong.

“I think the conference has been pretty even this entire season,” Birch said. “So many games have gone to overtimes and shootouts. The girls need a lot of just ‘We believe in you, you believe in yourself’ mentality. So, we come to the end of conference season finishing and then hopefully head in strong into sectionals and make a good run again.”

The Squires improve to 3-5 overall on the year to go along with their 2-1 TRC record. Manchester returns to the field on Monday when they travel to Rochester.