The pain and emotion were palpable.
This one hurt. Hurt bad. The kind of hurt that only time will heal.
A glorious McPherson High boys soccer season ended earlier than anticipated on Thursday with a scene that played out too often at McPherson Stadium this year.
Jackson Lewallen’s goal with 1:56 left in triple overtime sent Andover Central on to the Class 4-1A State Tournament while ending the Bullpups’ season at 13-5.
Four of those losses came in overtime — all at home. All five losses were by a single goal. MHS had not lost to a 4A-or-less school until this night.
While Lewallen’s goal set off a wild celebration for the Jaguars, the Bullpups left the field knowing they had tremendous chances in both the first and second overtimes of ending it but just couldn’t convert.
“I’ve been coaching long enough that when you see those chances happen... you’ve got to break through that barrier and get that (winning) goal,” MHS coach Chris Adrian said. “We had a couple of 1 v. 1’s that we should at least put on target where we missed the net completely. Then that goal-line scramble there at the end. First overtime, corner kick there. Just kind of a recurring nightmare that we’ve had here playing at home in overtime. I don’t know why we can’t get over the hump.”
Andover Central, now 9-6-3, was the No. 7 seed, but it clearly was much better than that. It took a 1-0 lead early on a 25-yard blast by Jacob Cromly, but the No. 1-seeded Bullpups answered back 4 minutes later as Drew Schrader took an Andric McGill pass and made the deposit.
From there, it was game of near-misses. Both Andover Central goalie Davis Joseph and MHS’ Tanner Rose were up for every challenge, both making some superb saves.
In the first overtime, the Bullpups charged the goal and in a wild scramble around the pipes, Joseph made a great save, only to be injured. Travis McCray was then put in a difficult spot by having to replace him after sitting the entire game on the bench.
The Bullpups also had the better chances in the second overtime. With 4 1/2 minutes left, both McGill and Patrick Munsey had golden opportunities, but somehow McCray was able to deny both shots with some skillful netminding.
McGill also had a blast right at McCray in the third overtime before Lewallen ended the 103-minute game with his goal.
“They’re one of the top three teams in the region,” Adrian said. “We were the better team and I absolutely hate losing when you know you’re the better team. You’ve got to give them a ton of credit, though. I believe that’s their eighth overtime game of the year. They’ve just gotten a win in a few of those and built some confidence.”
The game was the last for a large group of seniors and those that suited up on Thursday were McGill, Munsey, Rose, Hadley Hageman, Jackson Lloyd and Ryan Gawanda.
“Our seniors, we’re going to miss those guys,” Adrian said. “That was a great senior class. We’ve got some tremendous leaders in that group and you can’t replace that leadership. You look at how many young kids we have playing, there’s no doubt we’re going to be competitive next year and all that. I thought this was the year. Other than Miege, I thought if we get past this one we’d have a Buhler or Winfield (Winfield won). You’ve got to beat them all at some point.”