It was the present versus the future, the longtime queens of the pitch against those who desire to be queen.
Topeka Hayden, appearing in its fifth straight Class 4-1A girls soccer state championship game, proved that experience does matter as the 14-senior-strong Wildcats were able to make one lonely goal stand up in a 1-0 victory over the senior-less McPherson High Bullpups Saturday before a packed McPherson Stadium crowd.
For the Hayden seniors, seven of whom started, they exit with three state championships and a runner-up finish in their four years, perhaps signaling a changing of the guard as a lot of that talent probably will be playing at the collegiate level next year.
MHS, on the other hand, will return its entire complement of players who will be emotionally driven by their near-miss.
“The effort was there,” said MHS coach Chris Adrian, whose team finished 15-4-1 and a best-ever state finish. “We played really well. We played our best game of the year. That’s about all I can ask from my girls.”
The Wildcats were clearly the more physical team and their advantage in maturity showed on 50-50 balls, as they had the strength to drive through, which Adrian believes his team will be able to do better next year when it’s older and stronger.
“They were a good team. When you’ve 14 seniors against none, and five freshmen and six freshmen playing in there... our future looks so bright. If these girls just keep working, keep working and keep looking to get better, the future looks really good.”
The eventual difference was a left-footed banker midway through the second half by the Wildcats’ Margaret Dunshee, whose shot at the left corner hit the post and ricocheted past the Bullpups’ protector of the pipes, Sydney Ruder. Ruder was under siege throughout the game, making six saves, as the Wildcats controlled possession. The Bullpups, in fact, were credited with just one shot on goal, that by freshman Jessie Kynstason, who had scored four playoff goals in the first three games.
“There was a lot of talk yesterday, people saying that (Hayden against Miege) was the final, but we showed we can play,” Adrian said. “We’re a good team. And I was really proud of the way we played. All-around. Midfield, defense, goalie, forward — everywhere I thought.”
However, the Bullpups just couldn’t get enough touches to apply pressure on the Hayden defense.
“They were so good at dealing with those through balls and the balls out of the air,” Adrian said. “We had a couple of chances there at the end where we looked like we may get one, but didn’t get our goal today. This shouldn’t define their season what they did. These ladies deserve so much credit.”
Longtime Hayden coach Klaus Kreutzer thought the Bullpups fought the good fight.
“They were tougher than I expected after watching them play last night,” Kreutzer said. “When you get to this stage you have to play. They were very motivated. I think we were a little bit tired starting out, but finally we got it together. (Last year’s loss in the finals) was a big motivation. This is a senior class and they’ve had three state titles and one second and that’s pretty hard to replicate.”
Miege defeated De Soto 2-0 in the third-place game. Abbie Hair and reserver Daniell Jokerst scored the Stags’ goals. Miege had a 9-0 advantage in shots on goal as it totally dominated the game.