ELBING — The Berean Academy soccer team hasn’t had to play from behind much this season, but made the most of it when it did, coming back from two goals down to stop McPherson 4-2 on Friday afternoon in the Class 4-3-2-1A Region 1 finals in Elbing.
Braedin Templin scored the game-winner 43 seconds into the second half.
"With us down 2-0 and coming back, we got a lot of momentum to start the second half," Braeden Templin said. "We started passing better. My brother and cousins, Jon (Hoover), Grant (Busenitz) and everybody, we just started to come together. I was feeling a little bit down (after the 2-0 deficit). I remembered that game with Wichita Trinity Academy last year. I didn’t want that again."
Brother A.J. Templin got the assist on the goal.
Nolan Driskill finished with two goals to lead the Warriors. Jon Hoover added a goal with an assist.
"We have been down 2-0 once, but never came back," Berean Academy coach Russ Busenitz said. "Just not quitting is important. It was early. … We were going to get chances. Just because they scored two, it doesn’t mean. We have guys who compete. We got our chances and competed. It was a case of nerves until we scored."
"We panicked a little bit in the last 10 minutes of the first half," McPherson coach Chris Adrian said. "The first 15 minutes was really good for us. We played composed. We moved the ball around well. In the last 10 minutes, we just started thinking, ‘Get it out and be safe.’ That played right into Berean’s strength, playing direct and their physicality up top. You have to give them a ton of credit. It was would have been real easy down 0-2 to give up."
Zach Briscoe had six saves in goal for Berean. Kelvin Peterson had five saves for McPherson.
The Bullpups scored on their first scoring chance of the game when Cody Achilles finished a rebound off the Berean keeper. McPherson added a a breakaway in the 24th minute when Caden Hardgrave finished a Joshua Everhardt pass.
Berean struck back in the final three minutes. An Alex Zapata corner kick was finished by Driskill in the 38th minute. With 23.9 seconds remaining, Jon Hoover blasted in a shot from 25 yards to the upper right side.
McPherson held about a 55-45 advantage in possession in the first half. Berean held a 5-4 advantage in shots after McPherson took the first three shots of the game.
Berean controlled possession after gaining the lead, keeping the ball in the midfield. McPherson kept the ball in Berean’s end in the last 20 minutes of play, but the Warriors had almost everyone back to disrupt the Bullpup attack.
Driskill scored an empty-netter in the final minute.
"We couldn’t figure out what to do when they (pulled back their attack)," Adrian said. "We had five guys back defending one player. We needed a goal. That last 10 minutes, we started getting more guys forward and getting chances."
McPherson ends the season 10-8. The Bullpups lose just two seniors.
"This team, they met their potential this year," Adrian said. "We came in losing a lot of players and rebuilding a little bit. We got off to a 1-4 start. Then this team started to sink and gel and started playing really well. The last two weeks, we got the injury bug and had some guys get sick. We had one in quarantine. These guys started to become a band of brothers. We only had 15 healthy players. They just gave everything they had."
Berean Academy, 12-3-1, play Tuesday against the winner of Saturday’s game between Augusta and Wichita Trinity Academy in the state quarterfinals. It will be at the Region 2 winner.
"It helps having seniors who are experienced," Russ Busenitz said. "They play basketball together. They run track together. Some of them golf together. It’s the same guys that compete together all the time. They grow up to be men. We had one player lost to an injury. We lost one to illness — guys who would start. No excuses. We have to play. … We have to have the mentality that we can play with anybody."