Second-half slump

STATE COLLEGE – Mifflin County’s season ended in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA field hockey playoffs as the Huskies fell 5-0 to Twin Valley at State College’s Memorial Field on Tuesday night.

“We have a lot of underclassmen and they’ve gained some really valuable experience this season,” Mifflin County coach Tish Maclay said. “I told the girls at the end of the game that they’ve played their best hockey at the end of the year. I think the future is bright for them.”

If Mifflin County was going to beat Twin Valley, it was going to have to do it in comeback fashion.

Mifflin County started off strong defensively, fending off four penalty corner attempts in the first 11 minutes of the game.

The fifth one was a charm for Twin Valley though, as Hannah Menge took a pass on the left side about three yards from the goal and beat Mifflin County goalkeeper Jordan Myers with 18:28 left in the first half.

Twin Valley spent the first bit of the game camped out in Mifflin County territory, and the result was that first goal of the game.

Grace Wagner had a chance to even the score with 13:17 left in the opening half.

She was driving in for a potential shot on goal, but instead she elected to try a pass to Hannah Kerstetter, who was just wide of the goal. The pass went wide of Kerstetter’s stick and kept the game 1-0 Twin Valley.

The Huskies had a chance on a fast break with 6:30 to go in the half when Katelyn Cramer nearly intercepted a pass in Twin Valley territory that ended up going wide. She would have had an opportunity to split two Twin Valley defenders en route to the goal.

Mifflin County went into the half down only by that one goal, despite spending most of the half on the defensive end and facing a 9-0 disadvantage in the shots and a 7-1 edge in corners.

“I think the first half, we played a great game,” Maclay said. “I thought we made some really nice choices of what to do with the ball. I thought we didn’t back down from them. I was really proud of how they played in the first half.”

The Huskies couldn’t overcome those issues in the second half when Twin Valley registered three goals.

Twin Valley’s first goal of the half extended its lead to 2-0 less than three minutes into the second when Natalie Wilkinson scored with 27:15 left in the contest.

Kendra Jones added Twin Valley’s third goal of the night with 19:15 left in the game, giving the Raiders a 3-0 advantage.

“We knew they were going to come out hard in the second half,” Maclay said. “I think that we got away from what we wanted to do in the second half. They’re a great team and we know they’re a great team.”

Keele Lepage tacked on another for Twin Valley, scoring the fourth goal of the night with 16:29 remaining in the game.

Twin Valley star and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill commit Ashley Hoffman, who had been quiet most of the night, scored the fifth and final goal of the game with 2:25 left to play.

Mifflin County is a very young team and has a lot to look forward to in the coming years. Maclay addressed the players exiting the program in her postgame huddle.

“We want to thank the seniors,” Maclay said. “They don’t get a second chance. They have really made valuable contributions to the program and I really want to thank them.”

Mifflin County ends the season at 9-11-1. Mifflin County has won two District 6 crowns and appeared in the state tournament twice in the three years the school has existed, something no other teams has done.