Lady Dragons thwarted by Meadville in D-10 semis
ERIE – The Warren girls soccer team had every intention of getting to the District 10 championship game, but they were once again thwarted by the Meadville Bulldogs.
For the second consecutive season, Meadville bested the Lady Dragons in the D-10 Class 3A semifinals, this time by a 3-1 score at Cathedral Prep’s Dollinger Field on Monday.
“We didn’t play well, that’s what it was,” said Warren coach Jeremy Bickling. “They were the same team we saw two months ago and we weren’t the way we’ve been the last two months.”
The two teams met back in their season opener on Sept. 2, a 4-2 Meadville win.
And while the Lady Dragons didn’t have their best game, Bickling is very proud of what they accomplished this season, including a third consecutive Region 5 championship.
“I think we achieved a lot as far as not just the overall wins, but how the girls played, how they developed throughout the season,” he said.
Weather conditions were definitely a factor, with off and on rain, wind gusts up to 35 miles per hour and temperatures in the 30s.
Meadville had the wind at its back and was able to take full advantage in the first half.
The first corner kick of the game belonged to the Lady Bulldogs, and Karalyn Adams’ ball twisted in the wind and found its way into the back of the net for a 1-0 Meadville advantage just 8:19 into the game.
“I never like to consider the weather a factor because both teams have to play in it,” Bickling said. “But certainly, if you look at the first half, the two goals they had, especially the corner, the ball doing some funky things in the air – it was definitely something that we had to deal with.”
Despite going into that strong wind in the first half, Warren (13-6) had numerous scoring opportunities.
Kyleigh Wilson had the first shot on goal, but that was turned away four minutes after Meadville scored.
Mackenzie Bickling had perhaps the best opportunity for Warren to get on the board in the first half just two minutes later, as she chipped the ball behind Meadville (10-8-1). Fuller was able to recover and dive on the ball just in front of the goal line and just before Bickling could get a foot on it.
Less than a minute later it was freshman Kyra Wotorson with a shot on net, but she was also turned away.
While Warren’s chances went awry, Meadville’s did not, as Morgan Schreck got behind the defense and beat Lady Dragon keeper Abby Arnold with 24:17 left in the half to make it 2-0.
That score held, with neither team generating much in the way of scoring chances over the final 20 minutes of the half until late.
Wilson made a run down the right side, was able to beat her defender and get a tough angle shot on net, forcing Fuller to make a sliding save with just 35 seconds left in the half.
It was a slow start for a Warren team used to putting plenty of pressure on opposing defenses, but also a squad that went 13 days between games.
“You never know whether you’re going to come in sharp and fresh or come in dull,” coach Bickling said. “I think tonight we came in a little dull. We practiced well, the girls looked good in practice, but you never know without that competition. Sometimes you get in that groove of competing and you do all the right things and tonight we didn’t.”
Adams came out and got a great chance just 30 seconds into the half, but her shot sailed just wide of the goal post.
Much like the first half, the Lady Dragons had chances as well, but opportunities by Wotorson, Bickling and Lexie Grubbs went for not.
Right at the midway point of the half, Meadville went up 3-0, as Faye Vidoni fired a perfectly placed shot that found the back of the net.
Warren didn’t quit, however, as a ball was cleared away after a chance in the box, but came right to the foot of senior Kelsey Fadale.
Fadale fired a deep shot that went over the head of Fuller and into the net, giving Warren life with 13:21 to play at 3-1.
Try as they might, they couldn’t complete the comeback, however.
“I didn’t feel for a second that we were ever out of the game,” coach Bickling said. “It’s just a matter of when that opportunity was going to happen. That goal certainly put us closer, but then we were just running out of time.”
Meadville advances to play Villa in the D-10 title game on Wednesday.