Carter’s hat-trick lifts Mifflin County

Huskies win first game of the season

Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Mifflin County's Skyler Jacko, right, kicks the ball away from Harrisburg's Ganga Rai Wednesday in Lewistown.

LEWISTOWN — The Mifflin County boys’ soccer team opened the Mid-Penn Commonwealth season with a victory, its first of the year, getting a 3-0 win over Harrisburg on a hot, sweltering Wednesday afternoon.

Reese Carter — who also kicks for the football team– scored the hat trick to move the Huskies to 1-2 on the year and 1-0 in conference play. The Cougars fell to 0-1 overall and in the Mid-Penn.

“We played all right. The kids definitely had to dig deep today. It was a character win for us,” Mifflin County coach Robert Lepley said. “It was hot and miserable on both sides of the ball. We have things we have to work on. Overall, we were just a little slow today. We will continue to improve. Every game I see something that gets a little better. The kids were positive and kept their heads up. I was proud of them.”

Carter opened the scoring with an unassisted goal at the 24:26 mark. The Husky junior got the loose ball in the box and quickly fired a shot through the five hole of goalie Juan Valverde.

The Huskies made it 2-0 late in the first half when Carter picked up goal number two off a perfect setup from Leeum Noerr. Carter, wide open on the right side, got the feed from Noerr and dribbled down the field on a breakaway before firing the shot into the bottom left corner of the goal.

“He was on today. He wasn’t 100 percent so it was definitely a gutsy performance from Reese. He’s an important piece of our puzzle,” Lepley said.

Carter had a chance to earn another goal at the 11-minute mark of the first period when Jack Xanthopoulos got it to Carter off a corner and his header missed the back of the net by inches before sailing over the top of the goal cage.

Mifflin County added its final goal of the game at 16:54 when Carter scored his third goal, this one unassisted, for the 3-0 advantage. Despite the hat trick, Carter was somewhat disappointed in his performance.

“I could have been better. I should have had six or seven today, but I’m happy with the three and happy my team got the win,” Carter said. “It was pretty hot. Hopefully, we can keep the winning going.”

The Huskies had another chance for a goal when Adam Clemson banged one off the right post in the second half.

“We’re still trying to build chemistry in our midfield. We’re still working on our wing play,” Lepley said. “The positive thing we saw today is the kids are actually working together. They’re trying to do what we’ve worked on in practice.”

Mifflin County out-shot Harrisburg 16-10 with Carter ringing up seven of those.

“We’re looking for the dangerous balls across the middle. We told the kids at the beginning of the season to take shots,” Lepley said. “Last year we hesitated taking good shots and passed up a lot of opportunities. If you see a good shot you have to take it.”

Zach Burke finished with six saves – two clutch ones coming on shots from Cougar midfielder Bhupesh Ankari that Burke had to make one-hand saves on. The first came on a shot to the top right corner that Burke got his right hand on. The second came on a corner Burke deflected with his left hand.

Mifflin County won the corner battle 8-6. Harrisburg finished with eight saves.

“The only real negative was the heat. It was brutal today. I wish fall was here,” Lepley said. “We were close to playing a full 80-minute game. We have to iron some things out, but I’m happy with the performance today.”

Mifflin County travels to face Central Dauphin East in a Mid-Penn Commonwealth game today at 5:30 p.m.

Mifflin County 3, Harrisburg 0

First half

MC– Reese Carter (unassisted), 24:26; MC –Reese Carter (Leeum Noerr), 3:12.

Second half

MC– Reese Carter (unassisted), 16:54.

Shots: MC 16-10. Corners: MC 8-6. Saves: H-7 (Abdul Alhaitidori-6), (Juan Valverdi-1); MC-6 (Zach Burke).