Although the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division III title is never the main goal, it’s still a nice accolade to have. Tuesday night, the McPherson High School boys soccer team captured a league title, with a 4-1 thumping of rival Buhler.
With the win, the Bullpups are now 9-4-0 on the year, with only three games remaining until regionals. These next three games, two of them against Class 5A schools, will go a long way in determining the seeding come regionals.
Tuesday night, the Bullpups focused on the only thing they could control, beating rival Buhler.
“It hasn’t been as much of a rivalry on the soccer field as it has been with other sports,” Head Coach Chris Adrian said. “We played with a lot of spirit and energy in the first half. Overall, I was very pleased. I thought this was the best we’ve looked for an entire game.”
The Bullpups put a lot of pressure on Buhler early, but the Crusaders were not easily intimidated. Despite an overall talent discrepancy, Buhler hung in this game and made the Bullpups earn their four goals.
The Crusaders even had a chance to take an early 1-0 lead in the first five minutes, but a shot attempt sailed just over the net. The Bullpups would make them pay for missing that shot just two minutes later.
From nearly 40 yards out, defender Hadley Hageman sent a bomb off a free kick towards the Buhler goal, which traveled right to Patrick Munsey, who put the Bullpups up a goal with a well-timed header.
It wasn’t long after until the Bullpups took a commanding 2-0 lead, as Munsey drilled a ball in the top right corner on an assist from Darrius Armstrong from about 20 yards out.
Less than two minutes later, however, Buhler cut the lead in half off a free kick that was awarded on a Bullpup penalty just outside the 18-yard box. Buhler’s Jared Smart took full advantage, sending a ball past the Bullpups wall and goalkeeper Tanner Rose.
The score would stay 2-1 the remainder of the half.
The Bullpups did not put away Buhler out of the intermission like Adrian was hoping for. Instead, Buhler put a lot of pressure on the McPherson defense, and nearly tied the game up at the 54 minute mark, but the ball was saved by the right goal post.
Andric McGill closed any talks of an upset with 18:29 remaining in the second half, when Drew Schrader sent a ball past the Buhler defense, and into the running strides of McGill, who found himself in a one-on-one with the goalkeeper. McGill blasted a ball right at the Buhler goalkeeper, but he couldn’t hang on to the heater, as the ball bounced off his hands and into the goal.
McGill’s second goal was very similar to his first, as he received a long pass and snuck behind the defense for another one-on-one opportunity. McGill is not going to miss many of those, as he sent his second ball past the keeper to seal a 4-1 win.
The big names stepped up for the Pups, but it’s the unsung heroes who Adrian thinks deserves just as much attention.
“Darrius was just flying around his defender tonight,” Adrian said. “With him and Andric on the outside, we’re going to score a lot of goals. We just need to cut out silly mistakes. Devin Cape was phenomenal; he won just about every challenge he went into. He’s a huge leader on our team. Britton Haigh and Tyler Hoxie did a great job of controlling the midfield in the second half.”
The Bullpups sent seven shots on goal, four of them finding the back of the net, while Rose had one save.
The Bullpups travel to Valley Center on Thursday, a rematch of the Maize South Invitational Championship back on Sept. 10. The Bullpups were 3-1 winners, and played without McGill due to a red card the previous game.
“They’re a big, physical team” Adrian said. “We played team soccer all-around. Add Andric to that mix and we should be good.”
The junior varsity team continued to roll as well, defeating Buhler 3-0. Samie Jaime, Trey Hett and Jael Jaime had the three Bullpup goals, while Nathan Lloyd made on save in the shutout.
The Bullpups take on Valley Center at 6:30 p.m. at District Athletic Stadium.
Contact Gallagher Martin by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GMartinSentinel.