One goal may be all it takes Tuesday when McPherson High’s soccer team travels to Ottawa with a berth to the Class 4-1A Final Four at stake.
The Bullpups enter the 6 p.m. game with an 11-5-2 record, while Ottawa is 15-2. However, the Cyclones probably haven’t played the level of competition as the Bullpups, who number several 6A and 5A schools on their schedule.
MHS coach Chris Adrian can’t wait as his team attempts to return to the Final Four, where it has finished third and fourth, respectively, the last two years.
“I’m excited for our matchup against Ottawa,” Adrian said. “We both have very similar records and both teams have won a lot of close games with good defense. I believe they have only given up around 12 goals this season while we have only let in 10. Like us, they have one player leading the goal scoring, but then there are several players contributing with about six goals and five assists each.”
Rose Hill (17-1) hosts Wichita Trinity Academy (11-6-1) in the other South Central game. On the other side of the bracket, Baldwin (14-2-2) hosts DeSoto (12-4-2), while defending champion Miege (12-4-2) goes to Tonganoxie (14-3-1).
A lot of so-called experts didn’t expect the Bullpups to get this far, considering they lost nearly their entire starting lineup to graduation and have only one senior on their roster. But they have knocked off Winfield and Berean Academy for the right to play Ottawa.
The big discrepancy in the teams is experience.
“They are full of seniors and we are full of tradition,” said Adrian, as the MHS program has been one of the most consistent in state, whether it was in Class 5A or 4A. “It doesn't look like the type of game that anyone is going to comfortably win. I see this being another hard-fought, close game, which is the type of game these Bullpups have grown to thrive in during the second half of the season.”
In fact, four of the Bullpups’ five losses this season have come by one goal.
MHS is led in scoring by Andric McGill, who has 14 goals and two assists. Lone senior Ethan VanDorn (9,4), Jose Arriola (7,6) and Patrick Munsey (6, 5) have been other offensive cogs. Bullpup goalie Sam Minnick has been a revelation in his first year as a starter, coming up with many spectacular saves.
The Final Four begins Friday in Bonner Springs, then wraps up on Saturday.