By Dan Walk
October 5, 2012 7:00 a.m. MEADVILLE —
While it kept the game close, the Meadville soccer team’s defensive style of play also limited scoring chances, and that came back to bite the Bulldogs on Thursday at Bender Field.
Visiting Central Tech controlled the ball for much of the game and scored the first and last goals of the afternoon during a 2-1 victory between teams who were winless in Region 6.
“We got out of it with a win,” Central Tech coach Bob Plonski said. “It’s a region game, so it was very important for us. It was our first win in the region, so we needed that to go forward.”
The Bulldogs (1-9-1, 0-3 Region 6) struggled to possess the ball, mustering just two shots on goal in the game — one each half. Still, head coach John McGlinn was pleased with the squad’s effort.
“I thought we played better today than we played the last few games,” McGlinn said. “I thought the guys were challenging a lot more and working a lot harder. Our passes were kind of failing us. We weren’t able to string any passes together and that keeps putting us into dangerous situations on the field.”
The connection of Manzur Beniliyev to Jason Aguirre led to both goals for the Falcons (6-5, 1-2 Region 6). Aguirre used his head to score off a well-placed corner kick by Beniliyev in the 35th minute to give Central a 1-0 lead at the break.
But back came Meadville, scoring the equalizer just 4:42 into the second half. Samuel Hoefler booted a direct kick from the right side of the field toward Meadville’s Tanner Stanton, Cottrell McDonald and the Central defense. Stanton came out on the positive end of the scrum, scoring past a diving Jeremy Molder to knot the match at 1.
“Sometimes the ball has eyes and finds its way in,” McGlinn said.
The Falcons were quick to respond, needing just 59 seconds to jump back ahead 2-1 when another Beniliyev assist aided an Aguirre goal.
“It took a lot of pressure off us when you give up a goal like that and then you come right back and get the next one,” Plonski said. “Certainly, we expected more, but we didn’t get them.”
The go-ahead goal materialized very fast after a Central throw-in. It caught the Bulldogs’ defense off guard and it simply didn’t respond in time.
“When the ball went out of bounds, the player was smart enough to recognize that he could grab the ball from the ball boy and get a throw-in real quick,” McGlinn said. “They caught us not paying attention. You have to stay focused the whole game or it’ll cost you.”
As the game went on, Meadville’s scoring chances became extremely limited. McDonald, the ’Dogs’ speedy freshman striker, had a number of quality runs, but he had to consistently work through four Central defenders to even get a sniff at a shot. Meadville relied on a defensive style that left McDonald with few options.
“We were trying to get guys to push up,” McGlinn said. “We’ve tried in the past to play another forward up there with him, but we’re not winning the middle of the field. If we pushed too many guys up, then we get caught and they go right through us.”
Central had the shots-on-goal advantage — 9-2. Bulldogs keeper Jacob Cramer had seven saves.
The Falcons also had nine corner kicks to Meadville’s four.
Even as the clock ran under 10 minutes, Meadville left four players back during a corner kick. Trying to tie the game at 2, six Bulldogs had to compete in the box with Central’s whole team as the clock wound down.
“I didn’t really think that putting up any more was really going to make that big of a difference at that point,” McGlinn said. “It’s all about just trying to stay in the game. The longer we can stay in these games, the more confident we get and the more frustrated the other teams get.”
The Falcons were frustrated offensively and weren’t happy with how they passed the ball, but they were one goal better than the Bulldogs on Thursday.
“They’re a good side and they played well,” Plonski said about Meadville. “They put a lot of pressure on us. They kind of took us out of our game. We did not relax and possess the ball though.”