McPherson soccer coach Chris Adrian couldn’t stop moving after Tuesday’s match against Rose Hill. After the post-game huddle, Adrian told his assistant coaches, “I can’t stop smiling.”
Not only was the Bullpups’ coach happy about a 4-1 win over third-ranked Rose Hill, but his team finally clicked on all facets, especially midfield possession and ball distribution to the forwards.
“The midfield is so important in soccer,” Adrian said. “If you can’t win that battle, usually you lose the game. We made sure that was a priority today. Our possession was much better this game. We have been struggling with that in the past, turning the ball over on simple passes. The team looked like they really improved on that in this game.”
McPherson quickly caught on to Rose Hill’s defensive strength, which prevented through balls, and found other ways to score, despite missing senior forward Peter Horton due to injury.
“Rose Hill’s a team that plays good defense, and they try to get guys forward and attack through the wings,” Adrian said. “We knew that if we could possess the ball in the middle and make two or three passes in the middle, that we would find that space with our outside mids, so we tried to get those guys involved today.”
On McPherson’s only corner kick of the first half, Dylan Blosser sent the ball across the mouth of the goal and Kerrick Van Asselt, standing a few inches taller than the crowd in the six-yard box, finished the goal with a header. Freshman Andric McGill scored from a long shot outside of the penalty area 3:45 after Van Asselt’s goal.
Rose Hill’s Chance Beckham scored a penalty kick three minutes later, cutting McPherson’s lead to one.
McPherson quickly regained momentum, maintaining possession through the midfield, and playing the ball to its forwards’ feet. McGill scored again with 15:12 remaining in the first half, and Blosser finished off the half with a goal after Ryan Horton dribbled the ball to McPherson’s offensive third.
“We started making quick one- and two-touch passes, keep the ball moving,” Horton said, “and the defense couldn’t just come up and step and we wouldn’t turn it over. That made the defense tired and they made mistakes, like the third goal.”
Rose Hill maintained offensive pressure for most of the second half. But McPherson’s defense blocked all of the Rockets’ scoring opportunities, including Chace Beckham’s chance after cutting McPherson’s goalkeeper, and senior defender Adam Bowers stopped the ball a few feet from the goal line.
“We knew Rose Hill was going to come at us in the second half, we knew that,” Adrian said. “We had to play smart, and we didn’t attack as much as we did in the first half, we didn’t need to. We just needed to make sure we played smart, kept the ball, slowed the game down.”
First half—McPherson, Van Asselt (Blosser), McGill (unassisted), McGill (unassisted), Blosser (R. Horton); Rose Hill, Chance Beckham (penalty kick). Shots—McPherson, 5-4—9; Rose Hill, 3-2—5. Saves—McPherson, Stos 2-1—3; Rose Hill, Stitcher 1-4—5.