Youth will be served on Friday when McPherson High’s girls soccer team meets De Soto in the semifinals of the Class 4-1A State Tournament at McPherson Stadium.
The senior-less Bullpups take a 14-3-1 record into the game, while De Soto is 14-4-1.
Bullpup coach Chris Adrian said it’s like looking in a mirror.
“What I have heard is they are a young team like us and if you look at their postseason scores, they are finding a way to win close games,” Adrian said. “I believe they won their last game in the third overtime.”
Adrian said at this point in the year, records mean little.
“It's the Final Four and everyone there deserves to be there, so we expect them to be good,” Adrian said. “They have a solid record and have some wins over good teams.”
The Wildcats, like the Bullpups, received a first-round regional bye, then shaded Maranatha Christian 1-0 for the regional title. In the quarterfinals, DeSoto was a 3-2 triple-overtime winner over Spring Hill.
Adrian believes the Bullpups will come in relaxed. He admits the pressure to make the Final Four on their home pitch was somewhat oppressive, but now they know they’re assured of playing two games regardless.
The draw also worked out in MHS’ favor. There’s no question that staying away from private-school powers Topeka Hayden (14-5) and Bishop Miege (15-4), who play in the 7 p.m. game Friday, is a plus.
The Bullpups certainly know how to win close games. They needed overtime to nip league rival Rose Hill 2-1 in the regional finals, then slipped past defending state champion Wichita Trinity Academy 1-0 in the state quarterfinals.
The MHS offense has been elevated by the play of freshman super sub Jessie Kynaston, who is now second on the team in goals with 11 even though she doesn’t start. She has scored all three of the Bullpups’ playoff goals.
The McPherson defense, other than being routed 7-0 by Derby, has been airtight all season. Sophomore goalie Sydney Ruder has been nothing short of sensational, while she is backed by a host of defenders, led by Breckon Kaufman. Adrian said the Bullpups’ depth both defensively and offensively is one reason they have made such a spirited run.
This is MHS’ fifth Final Four appearance, but first since 2002. It has finished third in the state twice and fourth twice, as it’s seeking its first-ever state championship game appearance.