McPherson’s boys soccer team has scoring threats throughout its roster, a trait that led the Bullpups to a 9-1 start to the season. After defeating Rose Hill 3-0 Tuesday night, McPherson stands as the only team without a league loss in AV-CTL Division III.
“We’ve got a lot of great individual talent but we are really playing as a team,” McPherson coach Chris Adrian said. “When people play against us it’s not one person that they’ll have to shut down, we’ve had a lot of opportunities from the majority of starters.”
McPherson’s strength begins in the back, with goalkeeper Dylan Stos and center defenders Adam Bowers and Peter Horton, whom Adrian said are capable of starting the team’s attack but tend to focus on allowing as few goals as possible.
“Our defense is exceptionally strong,” Adrian said. “Their goal is focused on getting that shutout every single game, and you could see that against Rose Hill, they were almost more happy about that than getting the win.”
Nick Torres leads the team in scoring with 19 goals, followed by Xzavier Torres, who comes off the bench for the Bullpups. The midfield has supported McPherson as well, led by Ryan Horton, Dylan Blosser and Dylan Babcock, with depth from Cole Krizek.
Adrian said the Bullpups are heading into a tough stretch in the schedule, facing opponents such as Rose Hill, Junction City, and Buhler.
“The guys have some pretty high goals this season, every game they’re looking to get better,” Adrian said. “It’s nice to beat a team 8-0, 10-0 but we’ve got to play good when the other teams come around. Our guys play better against those teams, the better the other team plays, the better our team plays.”
Northwest struggles — Northwest coach Bobby Bribiesca knew this year’s team would be vastly different from last year’s undefeated state championship team. And still, the team started 5-0.
“We’re not as good as last year, but we have a big heart, good character and I tell the team ‘sometimes the will to win is better than the skill to win,’ and that’s what brought us through the first five games,” Bribiesca said.
Since that fast start, Northwest has lost to Kapaun, Carroll and Northwest. The game against Carroll was Northwest’s first loss at home in four years.
Bribiesca said every game is difficult for Northwest this season, because teams are motivated to beat the state champion.
“We go into every game thinking our opponent is a very good team, because a lot of times when you beat Northwest that means your season,” Bribiesca said. “Every team that plays us, even if they’re 0-16, it’s not an easy game.”
The Grizzlies have depended on senior defender Jake Carter for leadership. The defense, with goalkeeper Hayden Johnson, has held opponents to six goals this season. Andres Lleras leads Northwest’s offense along with seniors Caleb Mills, Nick Cramer and the rest of the midfield.
High competition — According to East coach Dylan Gruntzel, the increasing popularity of soccer has contributed to the parity in the Wichita area.
“Wichita soccer is kind of starting to grow. Five or 10 years ago it wasn’t the most popular thing to do, kids would rather play football,” Gruntzel said. “The talent is growing and it’s spreading out through the city and the surrounding area, so every game you show up to you have to be ready.”
Kapaun began the week in first place in the City League. However, East stopped Kapaun Tuesday with a 2-1 victory.
Derby entered the coaches’ state rankings this week at No. 7, but fell to Northwest 4-1 on Monday.