Soccer MVP voting a head-scratcher

By Steve Sell
May 24, 2017

When I received the AVCTL Division III-IV soccer selections on Tuesday, I thought it was a misprint.

Upon further review, it wasn’t.

I was expecting Aislinn Hughes of McPherson to repeat as league MVP or perhaps her teammate Alayana Wallace to receive the award. The chance of them sharing the honor even crossed my mind.

Hughes had 17 goals and 18 assists. Wallace had 17 goals and 19 assists. Both players’ assist totals broke the school record. They were certainly worthy candidates.

But the honor went to Kaitlyn Sabala of Circle.

Now I didn’t see Circle play and in no way am I doubting that Sabala is a good player. Congratulations go to her for the honor.

But McPherson was the league champion and it wasn’t even close. The Bullpups stormed through their seven league games by combined score of 54-3. Circle was the only team to even have a sniff of being competitive, losing to MHS by a 3-1 score.

How could a McPherson player not be the MVP? The criteria many go by is “the best player on the best team.” You couldn’t go wrong with either Hughes or Wallace as they were the focal point of every team’s defense.

I would be interested in the thinking of the other coaches. Maybe Hughes and Wallace cancelled each other out, I just don’t know. Maybe since it’s been two years in a row of total McPherson domination, they just wanted to see somebody from another team to win the honor.

To boot, MHS’ Chris Adrian was overlooked as Coach of the Year, which was shared by Jillian King of Collegiate and Anna Johnson of Mulvane. Mulvane had a nice year, but didn’t play the Bullpups. But when your team is so dominant, maybe there’s a perception that all Adrian did was roll out the balls and tell his team to go play. I can tell you that is far removed from the truth.

The Bullpups weren’t able to make the Final Four for a third straight year as Tuesday they were outlasted 1-0 by Thomas More Prep in the state quarterfinals.

This is why soccer is such a funny game and often frustrating. They were clearly the more skilled team, possessing the ball at least 70 percent of the time. They made several runs, but couldn’t complete plays. The Monarchs had two legitimate chances and cashed in on one of them.

But that’s how soccer works, the more talented team sometimes doesn’t win. TMP, once it got the lead, packed it in and the Bullpups couldn’t penetrate the barrier. TMP will now play Louisburg and has a better-than-good chance to win. The other semi is Miege and Maize South, which could be more competitive than the actual championship game.

I am expecting the Bullpups to certainly get back to the quarterfinals next year and go even further. They have nine starters coming back and three talented scorers in Hughes, Jessie Kynaston and Claire Hedlund. Goalie Riley Hett is back along with defenders Laiken Hein, Lauren Hein and Maisie Edmonson. Hannah Hageman and Jaycee Burghart are other returning starters. Moving up is a JV team that lost just one game.

It’s safe to say the Bullpup soccer team will make considerable noise again next year.