Lady Dragons defeat Bradford, 8-1, to claim their third straight Region 5 title

Times Observer photo by Brian Hagberg Warren players celebrate clinching the Region 5 title following an 8-1 win over Bradford at War Memorial Field, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. With the victory, the Dragons won their third straight region championship and now set their sights on the District 10 playoffs.

When the Warren girls soccer team began the season, they had a mission.

The team mapped out a plan to complete that mission, and reached the first goal on that plan as an 8-1 win over visiting Bradford Wednesday clinched a third straight Region 5 championship for the Lady Dragons.

“Our next step is the semi-final (District 10 playoff game),” said Warren coach Jeremy Bickling. “This (win) provides confidence and, hopefully, some swagger.”

Mackenzie Bickling had a hat trick for the third straight game, with 12 goals over the three-game stretch, and added three assists for a six-point game.

“Mack is playing all-around good soccer,” Jeremy said.

Times Observer photo by Brian Hagberg Warren’s Kyliegh Wilson fires a shot during a match against Bradford at War Memorial Field, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. Wilson scored one of Warren’s eight goals on the shot as the Dragons topped the Owls, 8-1, to claim the Region 5 title for the third straight season.

The Dragons (12-4, 8-0 Region 5) got things started early as Mackenzie sent a corner kick in from the left side and Lexi Grubbs was able to body the ball into the net for a 1-0 lead at 6:41.

Seven minutes later, Mackenzie sent a lead pass to Kyliegh Wilson. Wilson got behind the defense and sent the ball top shelf to beat the Owls keeper and put the Dragons ahead 2-0.

Defenseman Emily Egger got in on the scoring at 26:26. Egger had a direct free kick from the left side, near midfield. She sent a ball to the far side of the box where it hit the turf, bounced right and went under the crossbar to make it 3-0 Warren.

Mackenzie picked up her first goal of the night just over two minutes later. Kyra Wotorson brought the ball in and fired a shot. She missed, but the rebound went right to Mackenzie who buried the shot near side. Her second goal came in similar fashion, though this time she got the rebound from her own blocked shot and put it high. The goal sent the Dragons into the half with a 5-0 advantage.

The offensive output was in stark contrast to the earlier meeting between the teams in Bradford. In that game, a 1-0 Warren win, the Dragons weren’t able to finish.

Times Observer photo by Brian Hagberg Kyra Wotorson gets off a shot for Warren between two Bradford defenders during their match at War Memorial Field, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017.

“We had over 30 shots in that first game. Tonight we finished,” Jeremy said. “I had no idea eight (goals) would have been possible.”

Mackenzie got the hat trick at about the 10-minute mark of the second half. She got past the defense on the right side and shot to the far post.

Jessica Susz netted a goal for the third straight game at 63:20 off a corner kick.

Bradford finally broke through with just over eight minutes to play when Regan Johnson broke free down the left side and snuck one past Warren keeper Abby Arnold.

“Abby played well,” Jeremy said. “She faced a couple of good shots and kept them out and kept the momentum for us.”

Times Observer photo by Brian Hagberg The Warren girls soccer team takes a team photo after earning thier third straight Region 5 championship with an 8-1 win over Bradford at War Memorial Field, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017.

Wilson closed out the scoring at 76:35 when she tucked a ball in on the near post after breaking free down the right side.

“Our defense and midfield is playing so well right now and everything is clicking for us,” Jeremy said.

Jeremy said it will be important for his team to maintain this momentum heading into the postseason.

“We had an emotional let down last year,” he said. “We need to keep our energy high in these non-region games.”

The Dragons close out the regular season with a pair of tough non-region contests. They travel to General McLane, who beat Warren 2-1 in overtime earlier this season, Saturday before ending the season at Erie Oct. 17.