MAIZE—It was the end of the line for the McPherson High School boys soccer team on Saturday afternoon during the Maize South Invitational. The Bullpups fell to the Mavericks 3-1 in the championship finals and had to settle for second place.

Today wasn't the result we were hoping before, but it was the type of game that will help this team grow and improve," Bullpups Head coach Chris Adrian said.

The Mavericks, who were state runner ups last season, were as good as it gets the Bullpups are going to see down the road when the state tournament starts in Class 5A. The Bullpups were able to hang around with Maize South despite the high and heated winds. McPherson kept them scoreless until late in the first half, where Maize South was on the board before halftime. Nathan Lloyd made some crucial saves that kept the Bullpups in it. Lloyd finished with eight saves overall.

"Maize South was quick, skilled and kept us on our heals," Adrian said. "We went into a strong wind during the first half. Nathan Lloyd was huge once again and made some great saves including a penalty kick save right before halftime which kept the game at 1-0."

In the second half, the Bullpups were on the ropes as they gave away two more goals from the tournament's MVP Raul Gerhardus. The Bullpups were able to get their first goal of the day after a Tyler Hoxie landed a 40-yard free-kick. Down 3-1 with 20 minutes, the McPherson had a lot of ground to cover. However Maize South continued to wear down the Bullpups as the clocked expired.

"Going with the wind the second half, we put a lot more pressure on Maize South and passed the ball better, but you could see the boys were feeling the fatigue of their third competitive game in five days," Adrian said. I'm proud of the effort the boys gave, even down two goals with five minutes to go. It was obvious the team believed they still were going to get back into the game. Caden Hardgrave and Wesley Wurm played through sickness and faced some of the best attackers in the state. I was really impressed with the toughness these two showed when they weren't feeling well. Jael Jaime played his first game back after an ankle injury, and even though he wasn't 100%, he helped the team a lot today. I saw a lot of positives from the performance. Several players stepped up their game for the occasion played well. Maize South was the state runner up last year, and these bullpups now know they can compete with a team like Maize South.

The Bullpups will now focus on their league play, beginning on the road as they take on Rose Hill High School on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

All-Tournament Team

Tyler Hoxie

Drew Schrader

Trenton Stecklein

Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at pholland@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_