Scorched ’Dogs

Meadville’s Cottrell McDonald (right) struggles to beat Warren’s Sheldon McMeans to the ball during a Region 4 boys soccer match at Bender Field on Monday. The Region 4-leading Dragons posted a 6-0 shutout over the Bulldogs.

Meadville had a chance Monday to make quite an impression on the District 10 playoff picture with Region 4 leader Warren making a visit to Bender Field.

But when the final horn sounded, the Dragons jogged joyfully off the field, the victors of a 6-0 decision. The Bulldogs? They, too, exited the field with their heads held high.

While last night’s performance was admittedly not one of Meadville’s best, the Bulldogs fought to the bitter end. 

The Bulldogs also know there are some big games left on their schedule, including Wednesday’s showdown against a much-improved Conneaut squad. There is little time to dwell.

“It hurts,” Meadville coach Ryan Smith said. “The fellas are disappointed. But I will say they did not quit. No matter what 11 were out on the field they played hard. I can’t get mad. We just played a better team … a better team tonight.”

With the loss, the Bulldogs fell to 13-4 overall and 7-4 in Region 4. Only six teams advance to the District 10 Class AA playoffs. Meadville is fighting with four other teams for one of three at-large bids including Region 4 foe Saegertown.

“We’ve been playing well,” Smith said. “It’s just when you want to be the best you have to beat the best. I think we might still have a chance for the playoffs. But we still have Conneaut and we have to get back to work hard (today). The season is not over yet.”

Meadville came out for its game against the Dragons (11-5, 10-1 Region 4) with quite a bit of intensity and outhustled Warren. The Bulldogs just couldn’t set up anything offensively. 

At the other end of the field, Meadville goalie Evan Vanyo and the Bulldogs’ defense was putting on quite a show capped by an outstanding save by Vanyo off a corner kick with 31 minutes to play in the first half.

Warren found an answer less than 30 seconds later.

Mariano Zamora put the Dragons on the board with 30:44 to play in the first half and added another goal on a shot from about 20 yards out two minutes later to give Warren a 2-0 lead. 

Max Gross made it 3-0 and Zamora won a battle with Vanyo to make it 4-0 Dragons with 16:40 to play in the opening half. Jason Tipton capped the scoring at 15:30.

Vanyo had six saves in the first half.

Warren’s sixth goal came with 18:19 left in the game on a bullet from Tristan Boger.

“I’m still proud to be a Bulldog,” Vanyo said. “I’m still proud to part of Meadville and I think we can still take it to them. We are not out of this by any means. If we beat CASH, we still have a chance at playoffs.

“We may not have been able to put it together today, but I think eventually we will be.”

Meadville beat Conneaut 5-0 earlier this season. But after the Eagles’ 2-1 upset over Saegertown on Thursday, the Bulldogs are not taking Conneaut lightly at all.

“At the beginning of the season we didn’t think of them as much of a competitor,” Vanyo said. “But they played tough against Saegertown and we are going to prepare for them like they were this team (Warren) tonight.”

The Bulldogs had four shots on goal against the Dragons. They had their best opportunity to score with 8:04 to play in the first half when Logan Zimmerman took a shot at an empty net.

Warren’s Sheldon Means slid across the front of the net and managed to kick the ball away just before it cross the goal line.

Lisa Byers can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at lbyers@meadvilletribune.com.

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