Explosive soccer offenses matched tonight

By Steve Sell
May 23, 2017

If you like loads of offense, McPherson Stadium might be the place to be tonight.

McPherson High hosts Thomas More Prep of Hays in the Class 4-1A State Tournament quarterfinals at McPherson Stadium, with the opening whistle sounding at 6:00. The game also will be aired on 96.7 KBBE-FM starting at 5:55.

Even though the Bullpups scored only one goal in their 1-0 regional championship  victory against Hays last Friday, they had five shots either hit the post or crossbar. I counted a legitimate 12 chances that they could have put the ball in the net, but just didn’t finish.

They’ll need to tonight. The Monarchs are coming off a goal-fest in their regional championship game against Wichita Collegiate, scoring at a dizzying pace in a 13-3 victory.

Collegiate is a common opponent, as the Bullpups defeated the Spartans 7-2 when the teams met last month.

Both teams are used to success. MHS is seeking a third straight trip to the Final Four, while TMP has been a regional champion three of the last four years.

This is a Monarch team that has been building toward success. The attackers on the team, from the account I read, have been playing together since the first grade. Junior Kayla Vitzum scored a whopping six goals against Collegiate and Ashley Ostrander, another junior, added three.

McPherson has a hungry group of attackers as well. Alayna Wallace, Aislinn Hughes and Claire Hedlund have all scored 17 goals on the season and Jessie Kynaston has tallied 13. Wallace and Hughes have both broken the single-season school record for assists with 19 and 18, respectively.

The Bullpups have been controlling possession for about 70 to 80 percent of the time, but that’s also TMP’s MO. Something has got to give.

As prolific as both teams are offensively, the game could be decided by the defenses since both haven’t been tested all that much. The Bullpups have been buoyed by the return of Anna Schwindt, who missed the regular season with an injury but returned just in time to add strength. MHS has recorded 10 shutouts as Riley Hett has been solid between the pipes.

If MHS can survive, the state bracket could work out well. If Maize South wins as expected today, the Bullpups would be the No. 2 seed from the South Central in the Final Four and would stay away from Miege in the semifinals, as it’s assured of being the No. 2 seed from the Northeast. Even though the Stags have the worst record of the four teams left in the Northeast, they’re always going to be the favorite, simply because they’re Miege.