Better late than never.
McPherson High’s girls soccer team needed 77 minutes and 54 seconds to finally break through Tuesday night, as Paige Schmidt’s goal proved to be the winner in a 1-0 season-opening victory over Salina South at McPherson Stadium.
Scoring chances were few and far between before Schmidt nailed her blast in the right corner.
“That was awesome for Paige,” MHS coach Chris Adrian said. “She beat that girl... she had that space and time and just thought, why not? You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket, right? She has the shot and it was a great look for her, too. It was a goal she really needed. She had a few touches today that she normally makes... for her to get that goal is really good for her confidence.”
Adrian was pleased with his young team, whose roster is swelled by underclassmen compared to the veteran Cougars.
“The difference is that they’ve got about seven seniors I believe that are starting for them and that experience is big,” said Adrian, who started six players who are either freshmen or sophomores, while the other five are juniors. “You could tell the first half we were a little nervous. I can probably count on one hand the times we made four passes in a row. We want that to be part of our identity.”
Adrian believes depth is going to be a key. He said the Bullpups’ constant subbing led to the win, as South basically stayed with its first 11. Adrian has his deepest team in five years and kept fresh legs on the field.
“That was the difference in the game,” he said. “The last 10 minutes they had girls cramping and being subbed. They were having to play positions they weren’t used to playing.”
Among the standouts for the Bullpups, in addition to Schmidt, were Breckon Kaufman and Aislinn Hughes. Kaufman was a defensive rock, while Hughes flashed breakaway speed. Once MHS gets its touches down and passing more consistent, Adrian believes Hughes can be a consistent goal-scorer.
Sydney Ruder picked up the win in goal, turning back two shots.
The MHS JVs were a 3-0 winner with goals by Jessie Kynaston, Rylee Schrader and Ashley Gant.
The Bullpups complete their Salina swing by traveling Thursday to play Central.