The Meadville boys soccer team got to send its seniors out with a big bang, as the Bulldogs beat visiting Region 5 opponent Oil City 12-0 on Tuesday at Bender Field.
But no sooner did Meadville (5-8-0, 3-5-0 Region 5) finish off the win then head coach Nate Bahurinsky began looking ahead to his team’s final stretch of the regular season, which includes road games at Franklin, Conneaut and Warren.
“We’re hoping to be 7-8 going into Warren and trying to get to .500,” he said. “That’s the plan.”
Does he think his team can do it?
“I do, yes.” he answered. “Our defense has gotten a lot better. Slippery Rock beat us 7-0 (earlier in the season), they just beat 3-0. Bradford beat us 7-0 (earlier this year), they just beat us 2-0. So, a little formation change, helping to stop the through-ball.
“We’re not generating a lot of offense with the new formation. But it really helps us with the teams that are faster than we are and working the through-ball through the middle of the field.”
Tuesday’s cascade of goals for the Bulldogs was a nice change of pace from the previous four games, in which MASH didn’t find the scoreboard at all.
“We lost four in a row,” Bahurinsky said. “We hadn’t scored a goal in four games. So we needed this tonight, get back on track, get the offense working, communication, talking. It all worked tonight. And we just need to keep it going the last three games.”
Against the winless Oilers (0-13-0, 0-8-0 Region 5), the Bulldogs rolled out to a 6-0 lead in the first half. Logan Gregor, Ali Laylani and Ben Miles knocked in two goals each in the half.
Gregor scored twice more in the second half to give him four tallies for the game. Laylani made it a hat trick with a goal in the second half. Austin Granda put in two goals. And Mark Conrad, usually back between the pipes as Meadville’s goalie, put the final mark on the scoreboard for MASH with just a couple minutes left in the game.
“It was Senior Night tonight, the last game the seniors get to play here,” Bahurinsky said. “So it was nice to get some of them out there and get them to play some positions that they’d never played before. We’ve had a couple fun practices the last couple days.
“But tomorrow it’s back to work getting ready for Franklin on Thursday.”
Meadville lit Franklin up the last time they played. But the Knights will be coming into Thursday’s game with roughly the same record as the Bulldogs (4-9, 2-5 Region 5). So Bahurinsky wants his squad to be on its toes.
“I assumed, when we played them here in September, that it was going to be a little bit better of a match, but we beat them 7-0,” he said. “And I know that they’re going to be gunning for us on Thursday. They weren’t very happy about the outcome here.”
As for CASH on Saturday morning:
“I’ve been looking and some of their scores on MaxPreps, and they’re closer than I’ve expected. So, they’ve made a lot of strides from last year.
“Nothing is guaranteed. We need those last two games badly, and we’re going to go after them like we need them. And we’re going to be ready for Warren on Monday.”
Warren beat Meadville 5-0 when the two teams met late last month.
“It’s a big game for us in determining seeding for the playoffs,” Bahurinsky said. “It’s a big difference between 7-9 and 8-8, especially it being a region game. That would get us a tie for third in the region instead of fourth.
“We need everything right now. We need to keep the momentum.”