Warren battles in 2-0 setback to Hickory

Warren’s Kyleigh Wilson (right) collides with Hickory’s Kaitlyn O’Kresik during Thursday’s match at War Memorial Field

Warren went with a more defensive game plan against powerhouse Hickory on Thursday at War Memorial Field, and executed it to near-perfection.

The only difference was Hickory had Natalie Bell.

The Hornet senior and Duquesne University commit scored both goals in the second half in what was a 2-0 win for the visitors in a battle for second place in Region 6.

“Tonight was a test for us,” said Warren coach Jeremy Bickling “Actually, it was an experiment. I think for the girls to feel like they’re up there (with the best teams in District 10), they have to see what they can do.”

The two teams seemed to feel each other out in the first half, with neither generating a ton of scoring chances.

Warren’s Kyra Wotorson collides with Hickory keeper Molly Piso.

Warren’s two first-half chances came first when Kyra Wotorson put pressure on a ball that trickled back to Hickory keeper Molly Piso, which was juggled briefly before she was able to corral it. The other was a corner kick from Mackenzie Bickling that Kyleigh Wilson headed wide.

For the most part, the Lady Dragons (6-2 overall, 4-2 Region 6), did a good job of limiting the Hornets’ chances.

“We played a little more defensive-minded intentionally tonight,” noted coach Bickling. “Other than having their D-1 star score two goals, I think they did a great job.”

Bell got Hickory going immediately in the second half, just 1:30 in, making a great run off the left side and scoring off a feed from Carla Murtha.

Her second came just eight minutes later on a pass from Emma Schnolis.

Warren's Mackenzie Bickling dribbles the ball up field against Hickory.

The Lady Dragons were able to generate some chances in the second half, courtesy of Brooklyn Neureiter, Wilson and Paige Johnson, but each time Piso and the Hickory defense was up to the challenge.

“I think that Hickory is one of the best teams in the state,” coach Bickling said. “They’ve got four losses in the last two years and their only loss last year was to eventual state champion Mercyhurst Prep. It’s a step-by-step process (for us). I don’t think any of those girls now believe that they can’t beat that team.”

The JV teams battled to a 4-4 draw, with Rylie Yeager scoring a pair for the Lady Dragons.

Warren returns to action on Saturday, hosting General McLane at 10 a.m. with JV to follow, part of Youth Soccer Day at War Memorial Field.