It took 3 hours and surviving a couple of rain delays, but McPherson High’s girls soccer team finally finished off pesky Hays 1-0 Friday in the Class 4-1A Regional Tournament championship game at McPherson Stadium.
The 15-3 Bullpups advance to Tuesday’s Elite Eight, where they’re expected to host Thomas More Prep, provided Maize South defeats Circle on Saturday as expected.
Claire Hedlund’s goal with 11:44 left in the game broke the scoreless tie for the Bullpups, who legitimately had a dozen chances to score. Hays never had a shot on frame as MHS possessed the ball about 75 percent of the time.
“We hit five crossbars today or posts,” said MHS coach Chris Adrian, whose team is one victory away from a third straight appearance in the Final Four. “What I told these girls after (the game) was that I was extremely pleased with the poise they played with. Once you do that three or four times, you’re like ‘Oh great, it’s not going to happen. It’s going to be one of those games where they get one shot and they score the goal. But I never sensed that from anyone out there on the field. They did a great job of keeping that composure, and they kept trusting each other and trusting the system.'”
The Bullpup goal came after some nice hustle from Jordan Bruner to keep a play alive and then the ball pinballed around before Hedlund snuck it in.
“It was a ball that looked like it could go out and Jordan Bruner didn’t quit on it,” Adrian said. “And she ran and saved that ball from going out, resets into the middle and we score the goal. That’s a play you don’t think about, I mean no one sees that, but that was a huge part of the goal, just to not quit on it.”
The game, which was supposed to have been played on Thursday but was postponed, was delayed 40 minutes at the outset. Less than 2 minutes after Hedlund scored, the skies opened up and nearly an inch of rain fell that delayed the game more than an hour.
“You get up for a game (on Thursday) and then you don’t have it. And then you’re playing and then a lightning delay. You’re warming up for the game today and a lightning delay. Those are not ideal conditions by any means,” Adrian said. “Them having a chance to go in with 9 minutes left (for the delay) and adjust and make some changes was good for them and bad for us because we had all the momentum going. But those last 9 minutes were complete control for our girls.”