The McPherson boys soccer team dispatched the Emporia Spartans 2-1 Thursday night on their way to becoming Regional Champions.
The first 15 minutes consisted of a feeling out period between the two teams. Senior Rhett Edmonson had two almost headers during this time; the first chance originated from a free-kick but was called offsides, the second chance came off of a genius corner kick from Samy Jamie that arced wide left. Emporia bracketed McPherson’s leading goal scorer Senior Drew Schrader with three defenders all night. This made for a frustrating first twenty minutes as the Bullpups struggled to advance the ball. This all changed in the twenty-fifth minute as Edmonson capitalized off a deflected shot from Jamie and scored the first goal of the game. It was Edmonson’s sixth goal of the season.
The Bullpups scored again in the thirty-fifth minute off of a brilliant pass from Schrader. Schrader’s pass led to a scintillating Samy Jamie run down the length of the left sideline before he finally cut back to his right and stung the back of net for the Bullpup’s second goal. It was Jamie’s eighth goal of the season.
What was more impressive than the two goals scored in the first half was the stifling defense the Bullpups subjected the Spartans to. The Spartans came into the match as the #1 scoring offense in the state, led by their dynamic duo of Wilbur Landaverde and Elijah Williams who combined for 66 goals this season. The Spartans averaged 7 goals a match. The Bullpups didn’t allow a single shot on goal in the first half.
Senior Nathan Lloyd made a daring save to reject a Spartans’ run in the forty-forth minute, and in so doing injured his ankle. This seemed to hamper him as Elijah Williams scored the Spartans’ first goal in the forty-fifth minute of the game to make the score 2-1. It was an effortless, well-executed goal that completely changed the momentum of the match. From then on the Bullpups clung to their one-goal lead for the remainder of the match. They played brilliant defense and kept the Spartans from scoring. The Bullpups nearly had another goal of their own in the sixty-forth minute as Rhett Edmonson was about six inches away from having his seventh goal of the season. Landaverde had a shot on goal in the sixty-ninth minute that was wide left. This was the last time the Spartans threatened.
After the game Coach Adrian was asked about holding Emporia to one goal, “We were so proud of holding them to one goal…If we had pushed up (their defense) and tried to chase the ball they would have played the space behind us”. He went on to say, “We had to be smarter than them today and we had to play tougher than them today. The second half was all about grinding it out and finding a way.” Adrian acknowledged that the first half was the better half of the match for the Bullpups. He said, “The seniors have lost two regional championship games on this field and at the five-minute mark Trenton and Tyler (Senior defenders Trenton Stecklein and Tyler Hoxie) said, “This is not happening we are not losing this game”. Coach Adrian credited the win in a close game to senior leadership.
The Bullpups will next play in a State-Quarterfinal match against Goddard Eisenhower. The Bullpups have not previously faced Goddard Eisenhower. They match will take place Tuesday, November 5th at 7:00 pm at Goddard Eisenhower.