No loss is a good loss, but McPherson High soccer coach Chris Adrian came away from Thursday’s 1-0 loss to Salina South here Thursday feeling much better about his team than when it entered.
In what was MHS’ home opener after six straight road games, the Bullpups and Cougars packed about as much excitement into a 1-0 game as possible.
The game featured incredible speed and skill by both teams, with numerous chances being thwarted.
The only interruption was a goal with 5:57 left in the first half by the Cougars’ Gonzalo Avila-Castro, who outran the MHS backline to set up a 1-on-1 opportunity with goalie Sam Minnick, who simply had no recourse. Avila-Castro’s nifty move would have beaten even the state’s best net-tenders, as it was the only blemish on the night for the Bullpup junior, who made some outstanding stops.
MHS’ leading scorer Andric McGill, despite being harassed time and again by the Cougar defense, had a couple of good chances to score, but couldn’t convert.
“Wasn’t that a good game?” said Adrian, who felt like a fan of quality soccer as much as he did being a coach. “That was one of the best games I’ve seen. Their team, overall, I’d say probably had more skilled players. They had speed and experience. They’ve got a lot of guys who played on last year’s team. We had them. They were lucky to get out of here (with a win) to be honest.”
The Cougars clearly were the dominant team early as their possession domination kept the Bullpups on their heels for the first 40 minutes. MHS, though, started to turn the tide as it had many good runs after the break.
“We made a few little adjustments at halftime,” Adrian said. “We cut out some of those defensive mistakes. The wind was a factor. We were playing for a counter. That was our plan. We were going to let them move the ball in the back. Every time the ball got in the middle, our midfield players attacked so hard and they’d win it. We were going with one sub. Those guys were playing almost the entire game.”
Darrius Armstrong and Kyle Taliaferro earned kudos from their coach as both were all over the field. McGill and Jose Arriola were lauded for giving MHS chances to get the game tied.
“If we (would) have played every game like that this season, we’d be undefeated right now,” Adrian said. “There’s no question about that. This team (South) beat Hays 5-0 and put in their subs all second half almost. And we took them all the way (to the end). That’s a good team. Salina South (now 6-1) is really a good team.”
The Bullpups are now 4-2-1 and reach the halfway point of their season Tuesday when Augusta comes to town.
“I think my favorite thing about the game was that they had bigger, faster, strong guys and we were winning almost every 50-50 ball,” Adrian said. “In the midfield, we probably won about 90 percent.”
The MHS JVs were edged 2-1, with Ryan Gawanda scoring the Bullpup goal off a Trey Hett assist.