OTTAWA — Get a good look at the McPherson High boys soccer team. It will definitely be back for perhaps a longer run next year.
The one-senior Bullpups got off to a slow start Tuesday against Ottawa in the Class 4-1A Elite Eight quarterfinals and never recovered in a 2-1 loss.
The youthful Bullpups, who trailed 2-0 15 minutes into the game, finished with an 11-6-2 record, tremendous for a team with nearly a brand-new lineup.
“Well, the ride finally ended but we sure gave it a go,” said MHS coach Chris Adrian, whose team was a victory away from yet another trip to the Final Four. “Ottawa simply jumped all over us early and we could not keep up with their speed. It was early enough in the game that I knew we could still come back, but it all would depend on how the team would respond. The response of this young team after halftime is something I will always remember. They came out and started taking it to a very good Ottawa side and completely flipped the game. All of a sudden we were creating chances and (goalie) Sam (Minnick) didn't make a save in the second half.”
Team scoring leader Andric McGill drew the Bullpups within 2-1 in the second half, but MHS could never get the equalizer.
“Andric split two defenders and curled a great shot far post to cut their lead in half,” Adrian said. “After that, Ottawa got nervous and hung on until the final whistle. Their keeper made a great 1-on-1 save with 10 minutes to go, which probably decided the game.”
Adrian has had more talented teams at MHS, but this one is going to be special in his heart.
“I've had the privilege to coach some great teams here at McPherson, but this team exceeded all expectations and showed amazing maturity for their age during the last half of the season,” Adrian said. “I kinda joked at the start of the season that these guys were going to finish as a really good team because they were so young and improving quickly, but the question was would the season be long enough. I think we were probably 5 minutes away from defying the odds and getting back to the Final Four. The experience gained from this finish will sure help next years team.”
Ethan VanDorn, who provided the team with such tremendous leadership, will be the lone Bullpup to depart, so the sting of this loss could propel the Bullpups to even greater heights next year.