The Winfield High soccer team has come a long way since Sept. 12.
McPherson High drilled Winfield 5-0 on that day. Over a month later, the Vikings looked like a completely different team.
Tuesday night at McPherson Stadium, with both team’s season on the line, the Bullpups escaped with a 1-0 win to set up a rematch against Buhler on Thursday in the regional championship. But before the Bullpups could worry about Buhler, they had to survive an upset bid from a Winfield team that entered Tuesday with a 6-10-1 record.
The Bullpups were shutout in the first half — their lone goal of the night came five minutes into the second half off an own-goal from the Vikings. A ball that was up for grabs took a lucky deflection off the Winfield goalkeeper, resulting in the only goal of the night.
It was not the best performance of the season for the Bullpups, but it was a performance and effort to be proud of for the Vikings.
“The first time we played them, they didn’t play hard, and we did play hard, so our talent just dominated them; but today, they wanted it more,” head coach Chris Adrian said. “We looked nervous, we were on our heels. They played like they had nothing to lose, and that’s how we need to play. Definitely wasn’t our strongest performance of the year, but it seems like every postseason you have a game like this, where you just got to find a way to grind one out.”
While the Bullpups did need to catch a break to score their goal, they had multiple chances at the net. The Bullpups outshot Winfield 10-3, but were denied any goals of their own due to stellar goalkeeping from Winfield. McPherson’s Nathan Lloyd was also superb in net, keeping Winfield off the board with three saves.
McPherson improves to 8-0 on the season at home and 12-5 overall. The Bullpups will need every bit of the home field advantage on Thursday, as the AVCTL DIII champions Buhler come to town with a berth at the state tournament on the line.
Regional championship action gets underway at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at McPherson Stadium.
Contact Gallagher Martin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GMartinSentinel