It took McPherson High’s girls soccer team 15 minutes to get the monkey off its back.
Once that was accomplished — on a goal by Paige Schmidt after a nice pass by Bailey Holton — it was as though the Bullpups could relax and start to play the way they are capable of.
After being shut out in back-to-back games, the Bullpups were able to unleash some pent-up firepower in a 5-0 win over Augusta Friday in the consolation round of the 8th annual McPherson Invitational at McPherson Stadium.
Schmidt went on to finish with a hat trick and could have scored even more, but had two of her shots on goal, plus a penalty kick attempt, thwarted.
The Bullpups, now 2-2 on the year, will play Topeka High at noon on Saturday for fifth place.
"We scored three goals in the first half, but they were scrappy goals is what I would describe them as," MHS coach Chris Adrian said. "It wasn't a lot of buildup and passing as we'd hit a ball and take it from them and score. Then in the second half, it was just the opposite where we were creating and getting tons of chances, but we couldn't hit them in the net."
Schmidt's first goal came with 25:48 left in the first half and you could sense collective relief by the Bullpups. Alayna Wallace's bullet just moments later was denied, but Zaida Chapman made it 2-0 before the game reached the midway point of the first half.
Later in the half, Augusta charged the net with 14 minutes to go, but MHS goalie Shaelah White came up with a gritty save to keep the shutout intact.
MHS made it 3-0 off a nice set play with 13 minutes left in the half when Wallace's corner kick was headed in by Schmidt.
Schmidt completed her hat trick with 6:29 to go in the game to make it 4-0 and Chapman left-footed the Bullpups' final goal, her second of the game.
"To get those girls to get their first goals, like Paige Schmidt to get a goal and Zaida to get a goal, it just takes that pressure off them where they can relax," Adrian said.
Schmidt is expected to be at the epicenter of the MHS offense this season, but had yet to score through the first three games.
"Her speed tonight was great," Adrian said. "She was able to get around, she was able to hold the play up for us. I thought our midfielders did a good job of distributing and passing. They did a lot of running today. Sydney Ruder was getting around on the outside and getting crosses. That's a defender getting those crosses and we haven't always had that. So she's bringing a lot of attack to our defense."
MHS was sixth last year in this tourney and needs to beat a good Topeka team to avoid a repeat in Saturday's fifth-place game.
"I was surprised," Adrian said of Topeka's 4-0 victory over Salina South in the earlier game. "South is a good team, but they didn't look interested when I was watching. Topeka, you've got to give them credit. They're good… they do kind of the basic things right. They don't make a lot of mistakes. We're going to have to play a lot better than we did today."