Meadville’s Alayna Zieziula (right) hugs goalie Riley Olson after Zieziula’s header for her team’s first goal against Bradford on Thursday. Zieziula scored twice — both game-tying tallies — to help rally the Bulldogs to 3-2 win over the Owls.

In soccer, using your head comes in handy. Not just in terms of smarts, but also to get the ball into the net when the feet cannot. Meadville needed two headers to get past Bradford. The final one deflecting off Linn Torrell’s noggin for the game-winner with 4:49 to play.

On Thursday night, the Meadville girls soccer team rallied for a 3-2 win over Region 6 foe Bradford at Bender Field.

Meadville won its fifth straight and improved to 10-4 overall and 7-4 in region. Bradford is now also 10-4 overall and 7-4 in Region 6.

“It was a great game,” said Meadville head coach Jim Miller. “We had more intensity this game than the last time we played them, so that was wonderful.”

That intensity helped the Bulldogs overcome two deficits en route to a big region win.

After falling behind in the first half, Meadville found the equalizer off a corner kick. Phoebe Templin, who made the cut earlier in the day at the District 10 Girls Golf Championship, launched the ball in where Alayna Zieziula headed it home from a tough angle to make it 1-1 at the break.

“Phoebe is going to be the catalyst of the (corners). She comes up from the defense and takes them. She has good accuracy,” Miller said. “Zieziula over here to hit that angle, she knew what to do.”

For the first 20 minutes of the second half, neither team could find the net with a few shots  narrowly missing. Liz Adams had a pair that just missed.

Then, Bradford’s freshman forward Maddi Cowburn made a run and was brought down in the box by the Meadville defense leading to a penalty kick.

With 18:04 left, senior forward Regan Johnson tucked the ball into the left corner for the 2-1 advantage.

Five minutes later, Torrell had a chance to even it up on a header, but it was denied. She’d have another chance later.

With 6:30 to play, the Bulldogs were fouled inside the box leading to an equalizing opportunity for Zieziula. 

The senior blasted the ball in on the right side of the net to make it 2-2.

Yet the Bulldogs weren’t done. Carrying the momentum forward, Meadville worked a corner kick just over a minute later. Templin this time curled it in right to Torrell, who headed the ball down and into the net for the lead.

“We play a four back swoosh defense like a Nike swoosh. It’s the same principle on the corner kick,” Miller said. “They swoosh in and go after it so it spins and receives.

“To have Linn Torrell in that gap hit that winning goal. I’m going to be texting her father right after this.”

The Bulldogs then kept possession the rest of the way to take the stunning win over Bradford.

“The discipline was wonderful,” Miller said. “And to do it on senior night too.”

Meadville returns to action on Monday at Erie.


Jordan Hansgen can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at jhansgen@meadvilletribune.com

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