McPherson High boys soccer coach Chris Adrian said his team will take a lot away from the Maize South Invitational.
Including the tourney title.
The Bullpups outlasted upset-minded Valley Center 3-1 on Saturday to win the championship.
“This tournament has been a great experience for the team and has really helped them grow and show what they can do when they work hard and play for the team,” said Adrian, whose Bullpups are now 4-1. “I have been so proud of the way this team has battled through adversity over the past two games. Tonight we were without our leading scorer (Andric McGill) and Patrick Munsey was not 100 percent fit, but this team showed they are so much more than just one or two players. They played as a unit and never quit.”
Munsey, the tourney MVP, had rolled an ankle late in Friday’s semifinal victory over Maize South and it wasn’t even certain he would play. But he assisted on all three goals, two of them by All-Tourney Darrius Armstrong and the insurance goal by Drew Schrader.
Valley Center, which shocked Salina South in the first round, led 1-0 at the half as it was trying to record two huge tourney upsets.
“Valley Center scored an early goal 5 minutes into the game which could have really rattled our young team which started with four freshmen on the field, but these Bullpups rose to the challenge,” Adrian said. “We played solid the first half and created a couple good chances, but couldn’t find the net. The work rate from the players was awesome and we eventually started to wear down Valley Center.”
Adrian made a strategic move as he shifted Armstrong to center-forward with about 20 minutes to go and the MHS offense then took off.
“He got behind the defense twice and within 10 minutes scored two goals to give us the lead,” Adrian said. “Drew Schrader than went on to give us some insurance when he scored a great goal with his left foot to put the game away.”
Once and for all the Bullpups shattered the myth they’re a two-man team.
“There were so many players that deserve recognition for the way they played tonight,” Adrian said. “Darrius Armstrong, Devin Cape and Patrick Munsey once again played amazing games and made everyone around them better. Hadley Hageman and Trenton Stecklein played great defense and rarely get credit for the work they do back there. Even though Drew Schrader was giving up about 10 inches and 50 pounds on the kid he was matched against, he continually outworked him and beat him to almost every ball. Britton Haigh, Austin Monroe and Tyler Hoxie rotated through the midfield and put on a passing clinic. When this team works together, they are a lot of fun to watch and also really difficult to beat.”
MHS faces an incredibly difficult week as it goes to 4A power Winfield on Tuesday, then hosts 5A titan Salina Central on Thursday.