The McPherson High School boys soccer team did what they had to do to take down Bishop Carroll High School in the Class 5A Regional Championship, but unfortunately, the Golden Eagles were one step ahead and would lead to the downfall of the Bullpups' season despite a strong defensive effort all through the match, 1-0.
Bishop Carroll, loaded with 10 seniors on the field, wanted to end this game as quickly as possible, yet, the Bullpups' defense wouldn't let the Golden Eagles get any easy shots from them. Matter of fact, the Golden Eagles outshot the Bullpups 10-1 in goal attempts.
"We frustrated them, and played them phenomenally on defense," Bullpups' head coach Chris Adrian said after the game. "You look at Trenton Stecklein going up against one of the best players that we've played with all season, and just shut him down. A lot of times, it was a team effort back there. I can't be more proud on how hard we played."
McPherson's goalkeeper Nathan Lloyd was a busy man all day Thursday punching out and avoiding as many shots that could handle. Potentially his best performance of the season, Lloyd finished the night with 13 saves to keep Bullpups in this match.
After going scoreless majority of the match, it was crunch time after reaching the 10-minute mark in the second half. The Golden Eagles continued to put themselves in scoring position. It was a matter of time when they were going to score. Bishop Carroll finally scored with less than seven minutes left in the second half. Despite Lloyd's effort to punch the ball back outside the tackling box, Bishop Carroll's Tyler Griffin was at the right place at the right time as he nailed a header after the ball bounced back to him. The Golden Eagles hold their first lead of the night, and the Bullpups were playing desperately to tie the ballgame.
"He kept us in the game where we did get tired and lose focus,"Adrian said. "He had a great game, and kept us in it. I know he's going to feel bad letting in a goal that he kept us in that game until that point. He was definitely a good player for us today." It's a team sport, but goalkeepers fell that it's on them. He did a great job punching in that ball. Their player just reacted and was at the right spot to anticipate."
Trailing behind Bishop Carroll, the Bullpups were desperate for goals as time was running out. McPherson had their fair chances of getting a shot off, but failed to tie it up and as the clock reached zero. Despite not being scoreless, Adrian enjoyed the performance McPherson put in.
"The second half especially, I though we played really hard, and I was very proud of the effort the boys played with," Adrian said. "We played smart , we played exactly like how we needed to. Especially that second half to win the game."
A positive note going into next year for Adrian's Bullpups' team is that everyone, minus Austin Monroe, will be returning as a full-time Class 5A team.
"I'm lucky that all but one will be returning back next year, but (Austin) Monroe was the kid we're going to miss, and you saw why tonight him playing in that right back position and our center back position," Adrian said. "He's done an excellent job defending them, and so we got a spot we got to fill for next year, but the future looks really good."
McPherson's season has come to the end, finishing the year at 13-5. Bishop Carroll are the Class 5A regional champs and will move on to the state quarterfinals starting next week Tuesday.
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