Chris Adrian knew the Winfield Vikings would be much more competitive on Tuesday than they were earlier in the season when his McPherson High boys soccer team dominated them for a 5-0 victory.
But he didn’t realize they would be this competitive.
The Vikings came into McPherson Stadium and went toe-to-toe with the highly favored Bullpups and it took an own goal by the Vikings for MHS to escape with a 1-0 victory in the Class 4-1A regional semifinals.
The Bullpups, now 12-5, move on to Thursday’s 6:30 p.m. regional championship game at McPherson Stadium to take on Buhler, which earlier handed MHS a 2-1 loss in a game that determined the league championship.
MHS wasted some golden scoring opportunities throughout the game, but a lot of credit had to go to Winfield goalie Matt Everett as he time and again turned back Bullpup shots.
Adrian was relieved that his team fended off the upset bid after having not been pushed by the Vikings in the first meeting.
“That’s what I kept telling the guys before the game, that last score means nothing,” Adrian said. “I’ve seen their results and I’ve seen them play lately and they’re a different team now. The first time we played them, they didn’t play hard and we did play hard, so our talent just dominated them, but today they wanted it more, especially in that first half. We looked nervous, we were on our heels. I think them playing that game last night (a 6-0 win over Augusta Monday in the play-in game) kind of got those initial postseason nerves out of the way. Then they were relaxed and loose coming out.”
Darrius Armstrong hit the post 7 minutes into the game and MHS had other excellent scoring opportunities in the first half, with Armstrong missing an open shot and Drew Schrader having a blast stopped by Everett.
At the 35:42 minute mark of the second half, Armstrong applied a lot of pressure around the Viking goal and the end result was an own goal, which proved to be the game’s only mark.
“We had a break to score, but you can’t say we didn’t deserve a goal,” Adrian said. “Darrius had a couple of sitters that normally he puts in. Cody Achilles had an opportunity. It definitely wasn’t our strongest game of the year, but it seems like every postseason you have a game like this where you’ve got to find a way to grind it out.”
MHS goalie Nathan Lloyd had 3 saves, one of them a stretch-back midway through the second half.
Adrian knows MHS will have to ramp it up on Thursday against Buhler, which also had a tough first-rounder with a 1-0 victory over Arkansas City.
“We’re just glad to have another game after a performance like that,” Adrian said.