SALINA—The McPherson College men's soccer team ended their season on Wednesday night with a 2-1 loss in the semifinals of the KCAC Conference tournament.
All of the scoring took place in the opening 45 minutes of action, with the Coyotes getting things started in the 12th minute of the game. Their first goal came on somewhat of a fluke play. The player who scored, looked like he was just trying to play the ball into the box for a teammate, but it deflected off one of the Bulldog defenders, and then looped over the head of Thomas Kleywegt, who was in goal for the Bulldogs.
While they were still contemplating how unfortunate they were on the first goal, the Coyotes struck again, this time on a well-designed attack. Trailing the Coyotes 2-0, two-thirds of the way through the half, the Bulldogs cut the deficit in half when Sadam Ali beat his man down the right sideline, got in behind the defense, and laid off a beautiful ball across the goal mouth that Diego Loza ran onto and passed into the back of the net.
Heading into the halftime intermission, the Bulldogs felt good about the position they were in. They had dominated the possession in the first half, and had created several chances at goal. They felt like it was only a matter of time before they would break through again to get the game squared away. In the second frame, the Bulldogs continued to dominate the possession of the ball, and created chances by building their attack out of the back.
Unfortunately, though they created several more chances at goal in the final 45 minutes, they were unable to break through and find the equalizer. There were several factors that made scoring more difficult for the Bulldogs. One factor was the playing style of the Coyotes. Offensively, they played much more direct, being content to try and win the second ball and then play the ball forward. Scoring was also made more difficult by the fact that the Coyote net minder made a couple of spectacular saves, and also with a one goal lead, the Coyotes were keeping a couple of extra players in their defensive third, clogging up the 18 yard box, making it difficult to get quality looks at goal.
Kleywegt finished the game with four saves, many of them of the routine variety as the Coyotes were content to take shots from distance. The Bulldogs had a total of 16 shots, four of them finding their way on goal.
"I am very pleased with how we played tonight," said Bulldog head coach Doug Quint. "Our players executed tactically what we set out to do on both sides of the ball, but sometimes things just don't fall your way and their first goal was a good example of that. That was a good battle between two completely contrasting styles of play. KWU is good at what they do and they came away with the result".
Coach Quint also added, "I want to thank the seniors for everything they have done for this program. What a great group of young men that will be certainly hard to replace."
The Bulldogs finished the year at 8-8-3 overall, and 7-3-2 in conference play. They have a solid core of players returning next year, though most of them are on the defensive side of the ball. The majority of this year's seniors play on the offense, so recruiting midfield players and forwards will be a high recruiting priority this offseason.