The McPherson High School girls soccer team returned to McPherson Stadium for their home opener as they defeated Salina South High School, 3-1 on Tuesday night, marking their first win of the year, and as a Class 5A team.
The Lady Pups weren't in sync early on in the first half due to new starters and position changes. It didn't start the way they have wanted, and similar to last season, McPherson was trailing behind the Lady Cougars 1-0 after Alex Liles landed a header at the 31-minute mark. Salina South had missed opportunities to put more points on the board, but McPherson lucked out. It was the wake-up call the Lady Pups needed to turn it on and play lights out the rest of the match.
"It was a bit of a wake-up call, and we knew that we were going to make mistakes, Bullpups' Head Coach Chris Adrian said. "We got a lot of players playing positions that they are not familiar with, and we just haven't had enough practice time to work out all the details there, but considering all that, against a really good Salina (South) team, this is a team that's much improved from last year."
Claire Hedlund was lightning fierce on Tuesday as she led the Lady Pups with three-straight goals on Salina South. The first one was a strike after a missed free kick which eventually landed in Hedlund's possession at the 27-minute mark. Hedlund's next goal came with the assist by Hannah Hageman as she sprinted down the field and out beat the goalkeeper with 12 minutes left the second half. For an encore, she nailed a hat trick to give McPherson a comfortable 3-1lead to close out the game. Bullpups may have potential scorers in the starting lineup, but it's no question Hedlund is on another level after her performance.
"We got a lot of attacking weapons this year. You saw Claire Hedlund do what she does best, getting the ball, generating space and she can shoot. She had some great finishes," Adrian said.
Schieferecke also had a strong performance. Despite the one goal, she gained seven saves for the Bullpups.
"She did so good when the pressure was on. She made some pretty big saves," Adrian said about Schieferecke. "Her distribution punts—she's a natural. You tell her something she picks up on it. We're just lucky to coach somebody like her."
It may not be a hostile, rivalry game, but it looked close to it. Both teams got chippy with one another as they played all night aggressively. Michaela Bowers showed her toughness after making a strong, but clean, tackle to end the first half with momentum on the Bullpups' side.
"I was happy the way we responded after the first goal and that forward us to the second half where we played a lot more aggressive. We were a lot more physical instead of getting pushed around . We were the ones out there making those tackles." Michael Bowers set the tone five seconds before halftime with that tackle. It gave us a boost that we needed to be honest. It was a great tackle."
McPherson, now 1-0, will travel their first road game of the season as they will take on Andover Central on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_orour sports page @MacCountySports