It was as miserable — and as late — of a night that McPherson High’s girls soccer team has ever been associated with.
During Tuesday’s McPherson Invitational at McPherson Stadium, the rain started about 4:30 and never stopped. In fact, there was about an hour delay in Game 3 when lightning was detected.
By the time McPherson High and Salina South squared off in Game 4, it was an all-out deluge, not to mention the game started at 9:15 and the temperature had dropped considerably.
Eventually, it was one play that turned the outcome around after the teams had been even for nearly a half. MHS’ Jaycee Burghart was tackled inside the box and Alayna Wallace converted that into a penalty kick with 1:34 left in the half.
That seemed to energize the Bullpups as Aislinn Hughes scored just 31 seconds later, then MHS tacked on a pair of second-half goals for good measure for a 4-0 victory. The game was halted with 19 minutes left when the lightning returned, with no arguments from the Cougars, who were ready to get back home as all involved were wet and tired and the clock was nearly at 11 p.m.
MHS will now play Maize South at 8 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals. The Mavericks were a 3-0 winner over Hays.
In other games, Newton and Topeka looked like powerhouses. Newton routed Andover Central 6-0 and Topeka crushed Augusta 10-0. Those two winners play at 6 on Thursday.
Claire Hedlund scored MHS’ third goal and Wallace picked up her second of the game with just under 26 minutes left. Hughes and Maisie Edmonson were given assists.
“That was a long night,” MHS coach Chris Adrian said. “Having played Salina South a few days ago, this game really allowed us a chance to gauge how much we have improved since that match. I thought the girls really competed and played with much greater energy this time around.”
There definitely were some differences from the earlier 2-0 win on March 16 in Salina.
“After our first game with Salina, I had to get on the team because their body language was not that of a team that won a game,” Adrian said. “Tonight was a different story. The weather was miserable, everyone was cold and wet, and it was past most of our bedtimes due to all the lightning delays, but these girls brought a ton of energy and enthusiasm to the game. I have to give a lot of credit to our girls on the bench because they were cheering loud for those playing, which made the game so fun that I think a lot of the girls forgot how cold and wet they were. They really did make a big difference.”
Because of the conditions, Adrian wasn’t sure just how the game would unfold.
“In terms of the actual soccer play on the field, to be honest it was pretty ugly due to the wind and wet surface,” Adrian said. “Both teams really struggled to pass and trap, which resulted in a game that looked more like kickball than soccer, but the girls competed and outworked Salina and pounced on their mistakes. Alayna Wallace had a really nice game and scored two well-deserved goals. Aislinn was a worker out that and was involved in just about everything. Claire Hedlund scored her first varsity goal of her career and it was great to see the team celebrate that moment. Our backline also deserves a ton of credit as well because they have now played two games and have not been scored on.”
• TUESDAY’S GAMES •
Newton 6, Andover Central 0
Topeka 10, Augusta 0
Maize South 3, Hays 0
McPherson 4, Salina South 0
• THURSDAY’S GAMES •
2:00 — Andover Central vs. Augusta
4:00 — Hays vs. Salina South
6:00 — Newton vs. Topeka
8:00 — Maize South vs. McPherson
• FRIDAY’S GAMES •
2:00 — 7th place
4:00 — 5th place
6:00 — 3rd place
8:00 — 1st place