LEWISTOWN - Mifflin County started Tuesday's Tri-Valley League field hockey contest against State College in the way coach Tish Maclay has been asking her team to play all season - fast, aggresive and determined.
That effort explains three goals in the first 15 minutes of the contest and four straight before the Little Lions got on the board.
The fact that the game ended 5-3 - still, obviously, in favor of the Huskies - underscores Maclay's other message: Field hockey is a 60-minute game.
"We're thinking about having 60 minutes of consistent effort, and I thought we had about 30 minutes," she said. "I think we had a big letdown in the second half."
Sure, she notes, State College is a solid team - the only other Class AAA team in District 6 or the TVL, and the one that her squad will have to beat a third time for a shot at the state bracket. But she looks at the scoreboard and sees that the Little Lions won the second half by a 2-1 margin, and with upcoming dates against Line Mountain and Greenwood, it's cause for concern.
In the early minutes, the Huskies clearly established themselves as the team to beat, going after the ball with speed and finesse. Passes were on target, and there was almost an unseen force that was telling Mifflin County players where their teammates were on the field.
"I think they're developing a comfort level with one another, I really do," Maclay said. "But they have to communicate all the time as well."
Usual suspects Tayler Kuhns and Whitney Strohecker were able to lace the ball like a veteran seamstress threads a needle, moving easily through traffic and keeping Mifflin County if front of the State College goal. The two joined forces for a pair of Husky goals; Kuhns had an assist on another and Strohecker ended with three helpers for the day.
Kuhns scored first on a drive that started with a penalty corner; her second was a dribble-and-go that ended in the goal. Those were wrapped around a Sam Peters tally, set up on a Kezia Loht pass. Peters scored again to end the half after sustained play in the circle; Kuhns gave her the ball.
Loht scored the final Mifflin County goal, finding a perfect spot on the corner of the cage to deflect a Strohecker pass.
The offensive success was aided by the fact that the ball spent most of the time in the Huskies' attacking third, and Maclay singled out one player who played a major role in that.
"I thought Jenn Lake had a phenomenol game for us on defense," she said. "She made some really nice plays."
The contest was a first in one way for the school - this was a Play 4 the Cure game, a fundraiser for the fight against cancer in which both teams played a role, wearing special pink uniform tops along with other activities.
"We had great crowd support today - it's awesome to see this many people come out to watch a hockey game," Maclay said. "It's for a good cause and we're glad to come out of here with a win."
Mifflin County (10-3, 8-1) travels to Lewisburg Saturday.