The No. 3 ranked McPherson High soccer team started their season with over 90 minutes of solid soccer against a tough Newton team, and finished with nothing to show for.
With seven minutes remaining in double overtime, Newton’s Anthony Velazco put the ball into an empty McPherson net to give the Railers a 3-2 win, and the Pups shaking their heads knowing they let one slip away.
“I saw a difference in physicality that these guys played with, than maybe you’ve seen in pervious year,” Head Coach Chris Adrian said. “We were outsized at every position out there. They’re a good team all-around; you need these battles like this during the regular season to gain that experience.”
The Pups and Railers rallied back and forth throughout most of the first half, with each team having their fair share of opportunities.
But with a little over a minute left in the first half, senior Patrick Munsey found fellow senior Andric McGill, who buried the ball into the bottom left corner to give the Pups a 1-0 lead before half.
McGill is coming off a 37 goal season, while Munsey led the team in assists last year with 13. Munsey to McGill and vice versa will be a lethal duo for the Bullpups this season, and the two were only getting started Tuesday night.
McPherson had a golden opportunity to go up 2-0 within the first three minutes of the second half, but were just extremely unlucky.
A shot on goal attempt ricocheted off the top crossbar, only to for it to bounce right to Munsey, whose header also bounced off the crossbar before Newton could posses the ball.
One minute later, Newton made the Bullpups pay for not capitalizing with an equalizer in the 36th minute.
Newton’s Carlos Cornejo blasted a ball from past the 30-yard-line, that just soared over the outstretched arms of senior goalkeeper Tanner Rose.
Rose, who made his first career start in net, made eight saves and a few impressive diving stops.
“In his first varsity game, (Rose) was great,” Adrian said. “His goal-kicks were great today, that’s a weapon we can use. He’s a phenomenal goalkeeper.”
Once again, Munsey connected with McGill at the 21 minute mark to put McPherson back on top.
Both teams created chances for themselves down the strech, and it seemed as if the Pups were going to survive with a 2-1 victory.
But Newton once again found an empty net, and capitalized with seven minutes remaining.
The final seven minutes of regulation were much like the 10 minutes of the first overtime. The Bullpups seemed gassed, and Newton had the deeper bench.
Rose made a nice diving save at the end of the first overtime, but momentum was on Newton’s side heading into the final 10 minutes of play.
If the Pups could have hung in there seven more minutes, they would have received a respectable draw. Instead, they’re rewarded with a few bruised bodies, and the defending 4-1A State Champions on Thursday.
But this is a team that is going to compete for a state championship, and Adrian knows they will bounce back like champions.
“These guys are ready for it,” Adrian said. “If I said we were playing tonight, they’d be ready to go.”
The Bullpups had as many as five freshman playing late into overtime, which Adrian notes will only make them better.
The Bullpups have less than 48 hours to gameplan for Rose Hill on Thursday, in a game that could have serious implications down the road.
The JV team also is starting out winless, after a 2-0 defeat. The Pups could only manage one shot on goal, while goalkeeper Nathan Lloyd made three saves.
Thursday’s home game starts at 5:30 p.m. at McPherson College, with the JV to begin at 4 p.m.
Contact Gallagher Martin by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GMartinSentinel