It was the ultimate from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat moment for McPherson High’s girls soccer team here Thursday night in the Class 5A Regional finals.
With 6 1/2 minutes left in the game to determine the state qualifier, the Bullpups appeared to take a 2-1 lead on a goal by Logan Crowther.
However, MHS was ruled offsides and the Bullpups’ jubilation turned to deflation.
Valley Center took advantage of MHS’ brief despair, as Madison Wedekind took a Hanna Shelton pass to score less than a minute later to give the Hornets a 2-1 lead, one they would protect until the end.
The loss ended a splendid Bullpup season at 13-5, the same record the Hornets will take into 5A’s Elite Eight.
“We knew it was going to come down to one moment, someone making that extra effort to make a play,” MHS first-year coach Chris Adrian said.
“We were kind of deflated there for a minute when we thought we had a winner and were celebrating,” Adrian said. “Seconds later we found out we’re offsides. A minute later we’re taking the ball out of our net. You can’t let down and hopefully we’ll learn from that. That was tough. We thought we had won the game there.”
MHS took a 1-0 lead 12 minutes into the game on a Colleen O’Connor goal, one it held for the next 23 minutes before Shelton scored, off a Wedekind assist.
The Bullpups had a great chance with 10 minutes left in the game to break the 1-all tie, but couldn’t quite finish the play.
“We had two 1-on-1s and a couple of other good chances,” Adrian said. “We passed the ball really well tonight. We just couldn’t finish.”
Valley Center had more scoring opportunities, but the MHS defense -- which had entered the game with five straight shutouts -- was up to the task. Sarah Gaeddert came up with five saves, as the Hornets kept her busy.
“What a find she was for us this season,” Adrian said of Gaeddert, who came out for the first time in her senior season and was outstanding.
MHS must now say farewell to six seniors -- Gaeddert, Katie Mena, Tess Ingermanson, Shelbi Otte, Ashlea Hamilton and Grace Hageman.
“These girls accomplished all but one goal this year,” Adrian said. “They won our tournament, finished with a good record and won league. But I’d rather have been regional champs than league champs. But for everything these girls have gone through the last few years, they had a great season.”