OLATHE — Six McPherson High School senior soccer players went out on a positive note Saturday in Olathe. A second-half goal from senior Darrius Armstrong pushed the Bullpups to a 1-0 win over Spring Hill in the Class 4-1A third-place match.
After a physical loss to eventual state champions Bishop Miege the day prior, the Bullpups came out energized to play one final game together as a team. And for those six seniors, third place at state is something they will not soon forget.
“The third place game is always a difficult one to play, but I was really proud of the effort and grit the boys showed,” McPherson head coach Chris Adrian said. “I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: this team really loves playing together, so this game was more about enjoying the last game with this group than it was about winning some hardware.”
The Bullpups looked good in the first half, controlling the ball more times than not, but couldn’t break a scoreless tie. But just six minutes into the second half, Armstrong scored his final goal as a Bullpup, and it was enough to send his team out on top one last time.
“The first half we passed the ball really well and looked great in the middle of the field — we really should have scored a couple goals,” Adrian said. “We came out strong in the second half and got an early goal after a shot by Drew Schrader was rebounded for Darrius to tap in. The legs began to get more heavy as the half went on, and we started sitting deeper inviting pressure from Spring Hill. Nathan Lloyd made some big saves and our defense held strong and allowed us to get the 1-0 win. I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”
Lloyd had one of his busiest, and perhaps best, performances in net for the Bullpups. Lloyd, only a sophomore, made eight saves in the shutout.
For the seniors — Armstrong, Francisco Alcaraz, Devin Cape, Carson Stone, Conner Williams, and Noah Scott — they were able to experience victory one last time in the red and white.
“I want to thank the seniors for their leadership; they have helped create an amazing culture in the program that we will continue to build on,” Adrian said. “I also want to thank our fans who have been out in full force all season and have traveled long distances this post season to cheer on their Pups. My assistant coaches Eric Burghart and Martin Marfo have been so valuable this year and have worked their tails off and sacrificed so much time to get this team where it is. This season will be a season I never forget. It's been a pleasure to coach these young men and I couldn't be more proud of them.”
The Bullpups finished the season with a 15-6-0 record. The Bullpups return the bulk of their team for next year as seven starters were sophomores.
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