McPherson High girls soccer coach Chris Adrian thought the challenge of playing a once-beaten team would bring out the best in his Bullpups on Tuesday at Grant Complex.
After three basic walkover wins in a row where they didn’t break a sweat, the Bullpups were matched against Class 6A titan Derby. While MHS was able to keep the game tied for a half, the Panthers pushed across a goal in the second half for a 2-1 victory.
The loss dropped MHS to 7-2 and Adrian was admittedly disappointed.
“The first half was ugly,” he said. “We’re lucky it was 1-1. It could have been a lot worse. They were 6-1 coming into the game and they’re going to be one of the best teams we’re going to see. I’m not sure that scared the girls or what. I thought we would come in fired up and be ready to go. But we just looked dead in the warmups. We couldn’t get that spark lit.”
Down 1-0, MHS All-State defender Breckon Kaufman evened the game on a goal with just under a minute left in the first half after an assist by Maisie Edmonson.
The Bullpups managed to keep Derby at bay in the second half, but finally Jo Jo Eickelman scored with 12:28 remaining after both teams had made several good rushes earlier in the half.
“The second half we looked a little better,” Adrian said. “I told the girls we’ve split the season into thirds. This third we wanted to establish an identity where we are workers out there. I thought Lexi (Kynaston) did that really well and some of our defenders did that really well.”
The Panthers made a commitment to keep MHS’ high-scoring Aislinn Hughes from getting many touches as each time she seem to have the ball in her possession, two Panthers were right there.
“They had their holding mid that was dropping and stopping Aislinn, but she still gets involved and she made some really good runs that created space,” Adrian said. “But we had times where we looked slow. We looked like we were running in sand a lot. We’ve got speed, but Derby had a lot of speed.”
The MHS JVs tied with Derby 0-0. The Bullpups had not been challenged all season as they were undefeated coming in.
MHS is back home again on Thursday to host Augusta.