SALINA — The way McPherson High’s boys soccer team started on Thursday against Salina South, it appeared the Bullpups might be on their way to a fourth laugher in a row.
MHS, which had won its last three games by 10-0 scores, raced to a 3-0 first-half lead.
But the Cougars, who entered the game just 5-7, fought back and wound up losing by just a single goal, 3-2.
Darrius Armstrong scored the first Bullpup goal, with an assist by Drew Schrader. After the Cougars gave MHS some help with an own goal, Britton Haigh tallied what proved to be the winner, assisted by Devin Cape.
“The game couldn’t have started any better for us,” MHS coach Chris Adrian said. “Within 2 minutes, Darrius Armstrong was able to get behind Salina’s defense on a 1 v 1 and give us the early lead. Then 15 minutes into the game, Salina passed the ball back to their keeper and Connor Williams sprinted at him to put him under pressure, which caused the keeper to take his eye off the ball and it slid under his foot and into the goal for an own goal. At this point, we were all over Salina and you could tell they were getting frustrated. Britton Haigh then scored a great volley off a Devin Cape free kick. We went into halftime up 3-0 but knew the game was far from over because Salina have a lot of talent on their team.”
And the Cougars didn’t quit, which was probably good for the Bullpups because they haven’t had much stress in their recent games and needed to be tested.
“As the second half went on, we began to look tired and stopped winning the physical battle and began to make a lot of bad passes,” Adrian said. “It was obvious we were not in peak game shape after our last three games were either over at halftime or slightly after. Salina scored two quick goals with about 15 minutes left in the game to make things interesting. Although I was frustrated that we let them back in the game by giving up the goals, I was pleased with how the team responded and kept their composure at the end of the game. It’s a situation we can learn from, which will help us down the road. Salina South is a good team and this was a really nice win for the boys.”
The MHS JVs also had their first close call in quite a while with a 2-1 success. Carson Stone and Cody Achilles scored the goals, with Mark Fincher having an assist.
“The JV game was equally exciting as well,” Adrian said. “The team had a one-goal lead with about 5 minutes to go when Salina tied it up. Cody Achilles then got the winner with 2 minutes left in the game. It was great to see the passion they played with. It would have been really easy to hang their heads after giving up a late equalizer, but they came out on fire after that goal.”
The Bullpups now have a gauntlet of a week coming up. They host Hutchinson on Monday, play Tuesday at Buhler and then come back home Thursday to play Valley Center, all quality teams.