By Joel Muhs
MCPHERSON, Kan. (mcphersonsentinel.com) – For the second time in one week the McPherson High School girls soccer team triumphed over league foe Augusta, as the Lady Pups controlled the game from start to finish in the 3-0 win Tuesday evening at the high school.
In last week’s 17th annual McPherson Invitational tournament, McPherson defeated Augusta 2-1 in the consolation semifinals on Tuesday, March 28. In this week’s matchup with the Orioles, McPherson never let Augusta sniff the lead while playing some of its best soccer of the young season.
“We talked about our goals before the game was to be able to play the simple pass a little bit better and to play a quicker tempo, and I thought we did a really good job of that in windy conditions, which makes that tough,” McPherson head soccer coach Chris Adrian said after McPherson’s fourth win of the season. “I definitely thought it was our strongest game of the season in terms of what we’ve been practicing. We worked on holding the ball and shielding it and I thought the girls did a much better job of that.”
For the second game in a row, McPherson battled stiff winds that altered many shots on goal and passes. Despite battling the wind head-on in the first half of Tuesday’s matchup, the Lady Pups came away with two first-half goals that gave McPherson a 2-0 lead at halftime.
The first goal came from Sadie Law off a corner kick that was delivered by Keanna Sullivan with twenty-nine minutes and thirty-seven seconds to play in the first half. The second came off the foot of Baylee Simmelink who fired a laser into the back of the net from nearly 20 yards out to extend the McPherson lead to 2-0 with 13:04 to play in the half.
“Keanna served it in and Sadie scored the goal being in the right spot,” Adrian said about McPherson’s first goal of the game. “Baylee getting the second goal was important, especially going up two to zero into the wind in the first half. It felt like three or four to Augusta probably because they just knew ‘Hey, if we’re going to be in this, we got to use the wind in the first half.’”
McPherson’s final goal came off another corner kick by Law that would turn into an Augusta own goal. With 23:03 to play in the game, Law’s corner kick bent perfectly toward the goal as an Augusta player attempted to kick it out in mid-air. However, Augusta kicked it back into the net to give McPherson its final goal and a 3-0 lead.
“The next corner kick was Sadie taking it and just putting it in a dangerous position,” Adrian said about Law’s corner kick in the second half. “It was another Kansas windy day, which we have a couple of those during the course of the season. If you got someone who can hit that corner kick like that, that is really tough to defend.”
Apart from Law’s corner kick, the Lady Pups put the game into cruise control in the second half by controlling the ball and allowing limited Augusta touches in McPherson territory. Part of that control came from freshman Brodie Kuhn, who has stepped into an important varsity role in her first season with the Lady Pups.
“She’s playing like the Brodie we see in practice every day. In practice, she’s so tough. As a ninth grader and immediately being thrown into the varsity team just like Addison Shaft is, there are nerves there and you could see those nerves for the first few games,” Adrian said about Kuhn’s growing confidence. “Her decision-making is so much better now. She plays simple and has that explosive speed to get behind (defenses).”
McPherson looks to get a break from the Kansas wind with a Thursday afternoon matchup with Rose Hill at 4:30 P.M., which currently is slated to be five to 10 miles per hour winds. The Lady Pups will bring a 4-1 record into that matchup with the Rockets and will look to extend their winning streak to four games.
In addition to trying to add to their current three-game winning streak, McPherson will also look to continue the development of a deep and talented roster that will prove to be dangerous as the season unravels.
“That was a real solid game. We got everyone out of it healthy,” Adrian said. “We’ve got about five that have rotated through those three forward positions. They’re all getting a lot of minutes, a lot of reps and you see the confidence growing. We’re on the right track.”
First Half: Sadie Law goal with 29:37 to play (assisted by Keanna Sullivan). Baylee Simmelink goal with 13:04 to play.
Second Half: Augusta own goal with 23:03 to play (assisted by Sadie Law).