McPherson High’s soccer team attacks in waves.
Versatile forward Dylan Blosser is typically in the middle of everything with 6-3 midfielder Ryan Horton and 6-5 defender Peter Horton ready for Blosser’s passes.
McPherson (12-1, 5-0), ranked second in Class 4A, dominated pesky Buhler 5-0 Tuesday to clinch its fourth consecutive Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League soccer championship. McPherson has split two games against Salina South.
Blosser contributed two goals and Ryan Horton and Peter Horton each scored a goal and Ryan Horton added an assist. Kerrick van Asselt scored off an Andric McGill assist.
"Dylan Blosser and Ryan Horton were playing some great one-two combinations today,” said McPherson coach Chris Adrian. “They passed the ball and all the attention would go their way and they would pass to a teammate. We had a lot of good chances. Dylan and Ryan have been playing soccer since they were little kids. They know what each other is going to do.”
Buhler (6-7, 4-2) needed to upset McPherson to clinch a share of the league title.
“McPherson is the best team we have played,” said Buhler coach Dustin Hildebrand. “They are very good defensively and very organized in the back. It helps that they have big bodies in the back and middle. That is definitely the biggest team we have faced. Their big guys can control and possess the ball. They also have speed up top, so they can really attack quickly. If you are out of position, they make you pay.”
Hildebrand said Buhler applied good pressure in the middle of the field and prevented McPherson from a quick attack in the first 10 minutes.
“The first 10 minutes Buhler surprised us the way they were playing,” coach Adrian said. “We were not marking correctly. We left the midfield open. Once our midfielders realized they didn’t need to chase their forwards, it changed.”
Blosser swung the momentum with an assist to Peter Horton at the 27-minute mark that negated Buhler’s advantage with a 20-mph north wind.
“Getting that early goal was so important,” Adrian said. “If you can score against the wind, it takes Buhler’s edge away. We play better against the wind because it forces us to keep the ball and play the right way.”
Blosser scored an unassisted goal at the 21-minute mark. Ryan Horton’s pass to Blosser at the 12:08 mark made it 3-0 McPherson at halftime.
“We slowed the pace of play at times, but we got disorganized in the middle at times and so that allowed them to turn and attack,’ Hildebrand said. “We gave up a couple attacks down the middle on us. Little mistakes cost us in that first half.”
McPherson’s defense locked down Buhler’s aggressive Alex Darrow, who created nearly all of Buhler’s scoring chances. Buhler’s Lucas Caywood missed the Crusaders’ other good scoring chance.
“We wanted to make sure we contained Alex Darrow,” Adrian said. “He’s dangerous when he gets one-on-one.”
McPherson dominated the second half, but scored just two goals. Andric McGill’s assist set up Ryan Horton at the 36-minute mark. van Assalt was set up by Adam Bowers at the 34:25 mark for a 5-0 margin.
Buhler goalie Colby Dinwiddie made several sparkling saves to prevent any further McPherson goals.
“Colby has done a good job and worked to improve as a goal-keeper,” Hildebrand said. “The scores we gave up today, we didn't give him a chance to really make a save.”
Hildebrand was pleased the Crusaders kept battling.
“We did have a stretch where we got into a possession game and really worked the ball well but never was able to get behind the defense and create a scoring opportunity,” Hildebrand said. “We just need to put the pieces together and find a way to keep that possession and good defensive organization the entire game, not just stretches. Once we do that, we can be a tough team to beat.”
McPherson plays at Valley Center Thursday and Buhler plays at Salina South.