A year ago it was for the state championship.
Tuesday it’s for the right to advance to the Class 4-1A Final Four.
McPherson High’s girls soccer team will host Topeka Hayden at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Grant Complex in the state quarterfinals, with the winner moving on to Topeka Friday and Saturday.
In last year’s title game contested at McPherson Stadium — which at the moment is being renovated — the Wildcats scored a lone goal and made it stand up in a 1-0 victory.
That was a different Hayden team though. It has graduated many of its stars, while the Bullpups have returned virtually intact. The Wildcats are 10-8 on the season, the Bullpups 14-2-1.
“Topeka Hayden is going to be tough,” MHS coach Chris Adrian said. “They play really organized on defense and don’t give up a lot of goals and then they have a great forward who can finish really well.”
While some of Hayden’s key operatives graduated, there’s still plenty of players who were on the pitch last season against the Bullpups. And tradition matters, according to Adrian.
“Hayden has more postseason experience than any other 4A team and has been one of the top programs in the state for a long time,” Adrian said. “Our girls are really excited though to get the opportunity to play the team that beat us in the championship game last season.”
Adrian believes the home venue could help his team as it will be used to playing on the slower Grant Complex grass rather than the fast artificial surface of McPherson Stadium.
“It’s an advantage for us to be playing them at home Tuesday and I really hope we get our biggest crowd of the season,” Adrian said. “The support against Augusta was great last Thursday.”
MHS advanced to this game by dispatching with Augusta 6-0, while Hayden was blanking Thomas More Prep, 2-0.
In other quarterfinal games Tuesday, Spring Hill (14-3-1) hosts Miege (10-6-2), DeSoto (13-3-2) is at Louisburg (14-3-1) and Wichita Trinity (13-3-0) entertains Hays (11-6).