Expectations can be wildly unfair.
But a team would rather have wild expectations than no expectations at all.
Take the case of the McPherson High boys soccer team that opens its season here tonight hosting a Mulvane squad that must be shaking in its boots.
In last year’s meeting, the Bullpups escorted the Wildcats to the woodshed for an 11-0 victory. When you consider that MHS will field basically the same team as last year, it could be a long (well, short as a game ends with a 10-goal rule) night for the lads in the green and white.
MHS was supposed to be in a rebuilding year in 2014. It had graduated the nucleus of a team that went 18-2-1 and finished third in the state. The thought was the Bullpups would fall back to somewhere near .500.
But coach Chris Adrian’s young guns stepped up and delivered an 11-6-2 season that came up one victory short of playing in the Final Four.
Adrian’s team certainly won’t catch anybody by surprise this year. They’re the hunted, not the hunter. They’re like an All-Star team in that nine of the 11 starting spots are filled by players who earned some type of AVCTL honor last year. The Bullpups, who graduated only Ethan VanDorn, now have eight seniors, yet their two most heralded players actually are juniors — last year’s leading scorer Andric McGill and Patrick Munsey, who have played a key role for MHS since they were freshmen and were first-team AVCTL last year, along with Jamison Stout. McGill went on to earn All-State honors and is an exciting player to watch.
MHS should be able to score goals, lots of them. But given its expected offensive prowess, it’s going to be a common theme that overmatched teams are going to pack it in and try to keep games close, instead of winning them. I have a feeling MHS goalie Sam Minnick could become bored because there will be games where he probably won’t face many shots.
There are some potential potholes on the schedule. Assuming MHS wins its opener next week in the Maize South Invitational, all signs point toward a Bullpup-Salina South clash in the semifinals. The Cougars are talking 5A state championship this season after going 16-3 last year and they are ranked in the Top 5.
Salina Central and Rose Hill are other teams who are noteworthy. Those games will have a state championship-game feel. Rose Hill is ranked No. 1 in Class 4-1A in the preseason.
The Bullpups certainly will be entertaining to watch. They have some skillful players who can make the soccer ball dance with their nifty footwork. There’s also plenty of speed, so they should play at a breakneck pace.
I urge everyone to attend tonight’s game. Even though MHS has enjoyed great success — including a pair of state championships in 2001 and 2003 — fans still have been somewhat lukewarm as modest crowds generally attend the games. Maybe first-time fans will enjoy the show and come back for more.