It took the McPherson High girls soccer team a little bit to shake off the first-game nerves Tuesday in the season opener against Salina South and begin playing the way Bullpup coach Chris Adrian expects his team to play.

It took the McPherson High girls soccer team a little bit to shake off the first-game nerves Tuesday in the season opener against Salina South and begin playing the way Bullpup coach Chris Adrian expects his team to play.
The Pups didn’t pass much in the first half, which ended in a 0-0 deadlock, but, when they fixed that in the second period, the Cougars couldn’t keep up and, ultimately, fell 1-0.
“We want [passing a lot] to be part of our identity,” Adrian said. “One that we out-work the other team. Which we did do tonight. I thought we wanted it more, won those 50-50 battles, even though we were undersized in some of them. But the possessions have got to be better.”
The first half elapsed without much in the way of shots on goal for either team. South had one shot and one corner kick, while MHS had no shots and four cornerkicks. Three of those came in succession as the Cougar defenders kept knocking the ball out of bounds on the kick.
Freshman Aislinn Hughes had the Lady Pups’ first shot on goal three minutes into the second half. Both Hughes and Paige Schmidt had successive successive looks at the goal four minutes after that with South goalkeeper Elena Garcia making a spectacular save off Schmidt’s attempt to keep McPherson (1-0) off the scoreboard.
The Pups finally broke the 0-0 stalemate when Schmidt drilled in a rocket from about twenty yards out at mid-field that raced past Garcia with 2:06 left in regulation.
“It was a great look, too, for her,” Adrian said of Schmidt’s game-winning goal. “It was a goal that she really needed because she had a few touches today that she normally makes but she didn’t let that lead to more mistakes. For her to get that goal was really good for her confidence.”
The MHS defense then held strong to secure the win in the final minutes, much as they had all day, led by junior Breckon Kaufman.
“She was running hard through tackles,” Adrian said. “All of our defenders, Laiken Hein and Heidi Myers back there, they didn’t make any big mistakes. They played very simple and very solid back there as a unit. [Salina South had] maybe a couple of good shots from the corner kick,  but other than that, we did a really good job of limiting their chances.”
The Cougars (0-1) were senior heavy, much more so than the Bullpups, who only have one on the roster this season in Alexis Young. In contrast, South has eight seniors.
However, Adrian felt the Lady Pups had much more depth, which became apparent as the game wore on.
“Look at the last 10 minutes,” Adrian said. “They have girls cramping, being subbed. They’re having to play positions they’re not used to. Where I just throw in another fresh body and that girl is ready to go and it made a difference.”
MHS took three shots on goal in the game, with Garcia saving both.
Sydney Ruder saved all three shot on goal attempts by South for the Bullpups.
The JV Pups completed the sweep Tuesday, as they upended the Cougars 3-0. Jessie Kynaston, Rylee Schrader and Ashley Grant all scored for the Pups in the first half.
McPherson goes on the road to Salina on Thursday, as they will face Salina Central.
“Number-wise, they’re down, so, again, we’re going to be looking for our depth to be the difference,” Adrian said. “And, hopefully, we’ll get to fix a few of the things we saw here today. Tomorrow should be a good practice to work on some of these combinations.”

Contact Chris Swick by email at cswick@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @SwickSentinel.