As I sat in the comfort of the McPherson Stadium press box (minus the water that was leaking in) Tuesday night, I could only imagine what McPherson High’s girls soccer team and Salina South were experiencing.
I almost felt guilty. Here I was watching the two teams play in an absolute downpour while I’m sitting indoors complaining about the weather and how I got wet climbing the stairs to safety.
The rain started in earnest about 4:30 and never did cease. The third game of the McPherson Invitational featured a lightning strike, which forced about an hour delay.
By the time the Bullpups and Cougars took the field approximately 9:15 (near my bedtime), the heavens had opened and the field was splashy. Fortunately, McPherson Stadium is an artificial surface with an excellent draining system as the field can take up several inches of rain and it goes right through.
To compound matters, the cold wind was whipping out of the north. The players’ jerseys were soaked and I’m sure several pairs of shoes will no longer be useable.
Yet, neither team seemed to be complaining. They were embracing the conditions and trying to make the best of a bad situation. We’ve had some football games in the past played in horrible weather, but I can’t remember a soccer game played in a cloudburst.
The rain did prove to be somewhat of an equalizer. It was difficult for both teams to pass with their customary skill and the wet surface slowed the Bullpups, who possessed more speed in the form of players like Jessie Kynaston and Aislinn Hughes, both blazers.
Fortunately for the Bullpups, they were the recipients of a penalty kick just before the half and Alayna Wallace is virtually automatic on those. The Bullpups celebrated wildly after the goal because they pretty much knew that one score would probably be the difference.
The emboldened Bullpups then struck just 30 seconds later and a 2-0 halftime lead must have seemed like a 20-0 deficit to the Cougars. You could just tell then they knew they weren’t going to win and getting home and getting dry became the goal of the night.
MHS pushed the lead to 4-0 and thankfully for everybody involved another round of lightning came through and the game was called with 19 minutes to go. Salina South certainly didn’t object as its players sprinted off the field and to the bus, happy they didn’t have to go through the motions the rest of the way. It was nearly 10:45 when the game was called and then factor in the Cougars’ bus ride to the school and then the trip to their homes. They probably hit their heads on the pillows somewhere around midnight.
These girls were warriors and sadly, though, they may have to go through this again on Thursday. Hopefully this blanket of rain we’ve been involved in this week will ease up for one day so the teams can play under normal circumstances.
Hats off to all the teams and players in the tournament who toiled in such miserable conditions, as well as those loyal fans who huddled in the stands. They definitely earned my highest praise.