It had the atmosphere of a state championship game, as a large Bullpup crowd witnessed the McPherson High School boys’ soccer team win the Class 4-1A South Central Regional No. 1 championship 4-2 over Topeka Hayden Thursday.
“Our crowd was awesome today,” McPherson coach Chris Adrian said. “A big part of our success today goes to that crowd. We had a lot of guys play a lot more minutes today than they were used to, and I can’t tell you how much that crowd plays a part. It helps us play to the next level.”
The Pups (16-1-1) came into the match as the No. 2 team in Class 4A, according to the Kansas Soccer Coaches Association. Hayden was the No. 1 team and McPherson set out to prove why they felt that was backwards, as they held the Wildcats to no goals in the first half.
MHS, meanwhile, played inspired, particularly senior Adam Bowers, who had both of the Bullpups’ first half goals. Bowers had his first, a header off a Dylan Blosser corner kick, go in at the 26:55 mark of the first half.
He followed that up with a dynamite shot from about the 10-yard line off a set up from Ethan Nadeau with 11:10 left to play in the first half to make it 2-0 Pups.
Hayden didn’t go quietly, however, as Drew Seitz managed to sneak a goal past McPherson goal keeper Dylan Stos after a Hayden corner kick devolved into a rugby scrum in front of the net to make it 2-1 with 23:05 left to play.
Nadeau responded for the Bullpups, however, on a perfectly placed shot on goal off a pass from freshman Andric McGill.
McPherson would hold onto the 3-1 lead until the 3:00 mark of the half, when Hayden would again close the gap to one goal, as Jacob Keck blasted a shot from the 25-yard line. The Wildcats became more aggressive, trying to stave off elimination and send the game into overtime.
Their best opportunity to tie the game came with 2:00 left to play, when the Wildcats had a breakaway shot that just hit the crossbar and went high.
“I thought he was going to put it in,” Adrian said of that last Hayden goal. “Stos came off the line really well, though. He forced them to be under pressure and take an early shot.”
Ryan Horton scored a final goal with 5 seconds remaining to give the Pups the two-goal lead and the regional championship.
McPherson took nine total shots on goal to Hayden’s five. Stos made four saves for the Bullpups.
McPherson now awaits the rest of the Class 4-1A field to wrap up their regionals, as the majority are playing their championship games today. They do know, however, that they will host a State Quarterfinal match at McPherson Stadium on Tuesday. The opponent and time will be announced after all games are completed this evening.
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