Struggles continue for Mifflin County

LEWISTOWN – For the first few minutes of Mifflin County’s boys soccer season opener Tuesday, the Huskies matched visiting Central Dauphin East both in size and intensity. However, after the Panthers’ first goal 10 minutes in, all similarities started to fade.

With a new coaching staff and a new approach for 2013, one of Mifflin County’s goals is to match and become competitive with its Commonwealth Division opponents. However, in Tuesday’s 9-1 loss, Mifflin County – at least for the time being – looked more like the struggling Huskies of old.

“They found the seams, and they would drive,” Mifflin County coach Bob Lepley said of the Panthers’ offensive attack. “The guy that had possession of the ball would drive to the goal, and we didn’t pick up the runner. Simple soccer stuff that we didn’t accomplish today.”

And it was this simple stuff the Huskies failed to execute – stepping to the ball, blocking passing lanes, setting up the offense – that Lepley identified as the cause of the lopsided score.

But if Mifflin County let the door open, Central Dauphin East didn’t take much time to run through, having run the score to 4-0 by the end of the first half.

Where Mifflin County had trouble putting together an offensive attack, Central Dauphin East scored a variety of different ways during the first half, making one off a deflected direct kick, one from a flood into the box in front of Mifflin County’s goal, and two on crosses from Rinor Hashani to either Koran Dhungel or Chimmy Chinatu to make it 4-0 after the first 40 minutes.

By the end of the game, Central Dauphin East had put up five more goals – again relying on a rebound off a direct kick, a couple nice crosses and several breakaways – to finish Mifflin County, but in that time the Huskies were able to net one of their own.

Just after the half the Huskies came out with a spark, and this quickly led to a goal as Caleb Neff dropped a perfect shot toward the goal that Levi Sunderland headed past the Panthers’ keeper for the 4-1 score.

Mifflin County had spread out the offense and was working the passing lanes and it had worked for that one goal, but unfortunately for the Huskies that was the only score they would manage in the contest.

“Coming out at halftime there was a spark. It took them 40 minutes to figure out what they needed to do, we had a spark for five to eight minutes, we gave up a quick counter 30 seconds right after we scored, heads right back down. We just need confidence, and it will happen with time,” Lepley said.

As Lepley said, Central Dauphin East’s next goal was just 34 seconds after the Huskies’ tally on a Chinatu breakaway, and the rest of the game was history.

“They are a well coached team,” Lepley said. “(Their coach) does a nice job with them, and they’re definitely more improved from last year. They had a lot of speed that kind of threw us off at first.”

In terms of speed, Mifflin County (0-1, 0-1) will have a lot on its plate when it travels to defending Commonwealth Division champion Cumberland Valley at 7 p.m. Thursday.