As the final second ticked off here Thursday night, McPherson High’s soccer players fell to the ground in various forms of anguish.
Some of them simply collapsed to the turf after an exhaustive final 5-minute flurry that produced several opportunities to tie the game. Others put their heads in their hands, unabashed that tears were rolling down their cheeks. Even more seemingly were in a daze and walked around in an emotional fog, knowing just how close they had come to advancing to state.
In the end, the Trinity Academy Knights did to the Bullpups what they did the last time these teams met — ended their season.
Trinity advanced to state with a 2-1 Class 4-1A regional championship game victory over the Bullpups, who ended a terrific season with a 14-4 record.
“They’re a good team, fast, but it was two shots,” said MHS coach Chris Adrian, whose team more than doubled Trinity in shots on goal, 7-3. “It was kind of frustrating. We weren’t surprised by anything we saw. The goals we gave up were goals we really didn’t have a chance to save. It was lot like many of the goals we gave up this year. Give them credit for making the shots.”
Calvin Pomeroy gave the Knights an early lead, but MHS’ Patrick Munsey tied things up with a header after a pass by Jamison Stout. With 12 minutes left in the first half, the Knights’ Emery May powered an untouchable 25-yard laser and little did anyone know at the time that would be the game-winner.
MHS was on the attack the final 20 minutes, time and again challenging Knight goalie Drew Thornton. In the final 4 minutes, the Bullpups had no less than three quality chances to score as the Knights were packing it in.
“This senior class, I’m so proud of them. They’ve grown so much and matured so much,” Adrian said. “We had guys playing today that left every ounce of energy on the field. They tried as hard as they could and that’s all I can ask. It was a great effort. The sacrificed everything they had.”
MHS defender Darrius Armstrong had a tooth knocked out, Adrian said, yet returned to the game and had one of the really good chances at the end. Munsey also had a good chance, but again Thornton was up to the task.
“This team beat us five years ago and it feels just like that,” Adrian said. “We were ready for them. I feel like the guys were prepared. They just finished their opportunities and we didn’t.”
Now Adrian looks ahead to next year. The Bullpups return top offensive players Munsey and Andric McGill, but graduation is going to gut the starting lineup.
“We’ve got a strong group of guys coming back next year, but we’re going to miss the leadership of guys like Jeremy (Krehbiel) and Jose (Arriola),” Adrian said.
Trinity, 12-4-2, moves on to play Tuesday at Winfield in the state quarterfinals. MHS actually was a decisive winner over the Vikings earlier this season. Rose Hill hosts Louisburg in the other quarterfinal in the South Central Region.