In the championship round of the McPherson Invitational, the McPherson High School girls soccer team fell short in their 2-1 loss to Maize South High School.

"It was a game that the girls needed. We needed to see what we needed to be better at; like playing against a really good opponent like Maize South," Lady Pups head coach Chris Adrian said.

It wasn't a good start for the Lady Pups, as for the first time in the tournament, they were trailing early. Maize’s Gaby Crowell scored the first goal three minutes into the first half. Maize kept overpowering the Lady Pups, while McPherson struggled to get a shot off against their defense.

"In the first 15 minutes, they (Maize) were more aggressive. As the first half went on, I thought we started to establish our game a little bit. I was pleased with how we responded after giving up a goal. I thought we played a little bit harder after that," Adrian said.

McPherson started to pick it up late in the first. The Lady Pups were finally on the board after Claire Hedlund's shot on goal. The game was tied going into halftime.

In the second half, the Lady Pups had momentum on their side during the tied game. After going back-and-forth through the half, the Lady Mavericks' Brooke Moore took the final shot and scored with two minutes remaining. Adrian saw the fatigue in his team, so he substituted players often to keep them fresh for games like this. Unfortunately, the plan backfired, and the Lady Pups couldn’t get a shot off to even the score before time ran out.

"We took a bit of a risk and left the starters in, hoping that we could get that second goal. Unfortunately, in the last 10 minutes, the legs started to run out of gas, and we started not being able to keep the ball. Our passing started to get worse, and we missed a lot of our passes. That resulted them (Maize) getting opportunities," Adrian said.

Riley Hett started as goalkeeper but was taken out after dealing with a wrist injury. She finished the night with five saves and gave up one goal in the first half. Replacing her was Lakyn Schieferecke, who dominated the second half with nine saves, despite giving up the last goal.

"I couldn't ask anything more. She (Schieferecke) was making difficult saves like it was a routine back there. She had a few that she caught that a lot of girls would've punched," Adrian said.

It was a tough loss for the Lady Pups in the end, but Adrian told his team after the game to use it as a way to figure out what they need to improve on through the season.

"The girls are obviously disappointed as well as they should be. We came out anticipating and expecting to win. What I saw from them is they know what they need to improve on, and they know that if we can do that, our margin of getting better is really high. If we can improve on that possession side, being able to handle the ball with another team is really forcing us to put under pressure," Adrian said.

After receiving their medals, five McPherson girls made the all-tournament team. That includes Aislinn Hughes, Jessie Kynaston, Hannah Hageman, Claire Hedlund and Jaycee Burghart. Gaby Crowell for Maize South was named MVP.

Final Standings

1. Maize South

2. McPherson

3. Newton

4. Topeka

5. Salina South

6. Andover Central

7. Hayes

8. Augusta

Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at pholland@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_