McPHERSON — The McPherson High School boys soccer team took home-field advantage to new heights Tuesday afternoon, converting on two of three penalty kicks en route to a 6-2 victory against the Winfield Vikings in AV-CTL D-III action.
The Vikings (2-4, 0-1 AV-CTL D-III) battled to a 2-2 halftime tie before the game got out of hand. McPherson converted two penalty kicks in the second half and outscored the Vikings 4-0 after the break.
“Really proud of my team tonight. I felt like for the first time this season, we came out and played as a complete unit,” WHS coach Charles Osen said. “Starters were flying around, guys off the bench were ready and came with intensity. And the disappointment at the end of the night showed me how hard they laid it on the line and I was so happy to see that. I truly believe this can be a great team, and I feel like tonight, the guys saw what I have been talking about.”
Josh Everhart booted home a pass from Caden Hardgrave to give the Bullpups (3-1-1, 1-0) a quick 1-0 lead seven minutes in, but WHS senior Kyan Towles scored the equalizer off a feed from senior Julien Washington eight minutes later.
The Vikings then took the lead when junior Zach Hammar scored three minutes later.
It stayed that way until the final three minutes of the half when Everhart scored his second of the game to knot the score again.
“I hated seeing us give up a goal not even two minutes in. But wow, did we react the right way to it,” Osen said. “I felt like for the next 35 minutes, we played some of our best soccer. The game tying goal was set up by a bad clearance and a really high unassisted finish by Everhart.”
Connor Olsen gave the Bullpups the lead for good on an unassisted score with just less than 32 minutes remaining.
Back-to-back penalties less than three minutes apart called on the Vikings in the box were cashed in by McPherson. Everhart booted home the first one to record a hat trick, and Wesley Wurm tacked on the second.
“In the second half, I felt like McPherson brought a different intensity level and they did a great possessing the ball,” Osen said. “But down 3-2, Kyan had a terrific rip that just hit the crossbar and Julien Washington had a chance and his shot just trickled by the post. I feel like when you play those good teams like McPherson, you need just a bit of luck, you need to catch a break here and there, and it didn’t happen.”
Hardgrave capped the scoring off a feed from Everhart with 7 1/2 minutes remaining.
“Giving them two penalty kicks within three or four minutes certainly didn’t help. It made the score look worse than it really was, but those are the breaks in soccer,” Osen said. “Question is how do we handle it going forward? We cannot dwell on that. At the end of the day, we were on the short end, but we showed strides tonight and who knows, maybe we will see them again.”
The Vikings end their exhaustive seven-game road trip to start the season today at El Dorado. Winfield defeated the Wildcats (0-5, 0-1) 8-4 in nonleague action on Sept. 2 at El Dorado. El Dorado was pounded 10-0 on Tuesday by Rose Hill/Douglass.
McPherson 6, Winfield 2
M — Josh Everhart (Caden Hardgrave), 38:13.
W — Kyan Towles (Julien Washington), 30:20.
W — Zach Hammar, 27:36.
M — Everhart (unassisted), 2:56.
M — Connor Olsen (unassisted), 31:52.
M — Everhart (penalty kick), 12:02.
M — Wesley Wurm (penalty kick), 9:46.
M — Hardgrave (Everhart), 7:30.