Bullpup kickers have versatile offense

By Steve Sell
April 11, 2018

The term “one-man team” or “one-woman team” makes every coach I know cringe.

McPherson High girls soccer coach Chris Adrian certainly takes offense to the term, since he believes he has a team that relies on the weaponry of a number of players.

When I interviewed Adrian after Tuesday’s 8-1 Bullpup win over arch-rival Buhler, he pointed out on more than one occasion how the Crusaders apparently thought his team was senior standout Aislinn Hughes and then a supporting cast.

Adrian used Buhler’s concentration on stopping Hughes to his team’s advantage. Hughes at times was a decoy in the second half and it opened things up in the middle and the opposite area where she was playing. The result was a phalanx of goals, seven of them in fact, that led to the Bullpups sinking their arch-rival by a wide margin.

Friday’s upcoming home game against Andover represents the halfway point of the season. MHS is 5-1-1, the lone loss to powerhouse Maize South in the finals of the McPherson Invitational. The tie was a 1-1 headscratcher against Circle, a game the Bullpups nailed the post or crossbar six times, so they were just a few inches away from actually winning that game comfortably.

A big reason for the success is the balance. Adrian is spot-on when he says his team can score in so many ways. 

Hughes is arguably one of the best 10 players in the state for any class. She has great speed and deft ballhandling skills.

But Jessie Kynaston and Claire Hedlund are electric with the ball. They more often than not beat their defenders around the corner because they are blazers, not to mention, like Hughes, they have dynamic footwork.

Freshman Kenzee Godwin has developed into another speedster. If you take her and the three players previously mentioned, you would have one heck of a 4 x 100 relay team. I can recall Hughes being a dominant sprinter during her middle school track and field days and would probably score the Bullpup track and field team a nice sum of points had she chosen that sport.

On Tuesday, the Bullpups’ Hannah Hageman, after scoring just one goal in the first six games, netted three in a matter of 25 minutes in the second half. Hageman has a strong leg and wears many hats on the field as she’s one of the team’s most versatile performers.

I think any opposing coach preparing for the Bullpups would have to take into consideration the offensive players other than Hughes. This is a multi-talented MHS attack and any player is capable of a hat trick. Evidence of that is that Hageman’s hatter was the third for a Bullpup this year, joining Kynaston and Hughes.

The Bullpups would appear to have few potholes the rest of the regular season. They have a rematch with Newton, as well as a huge game with Hutchinson, which is very good this season. A season-ending home game with Salina Central is a perfect way to head into the postseason as the Mustangs will be more than worthy.

The Bullpups are still on track for something special to happen. And if it does, it will be because it’s a total team effort.