Little Lions too much for Huskies
Mifflin Co. falls in D6 semifinal
STATE COLLEGE–Mifflin County fell to State College in the District 6 Class 4A boys soccer Semifinal at Memorial Park in State College on Tuesday night, by a final score of 4-0. The Huskies defense held tough as the Little Lions fired off 33 shots, but it proved to be too much.
Mifflin County came into the game as the underdog, going into the contest with a 1-9 record, while the Little Lions had a record of 9-5. The Huskies opened the game playing with a chip on their shoulder and caught State College off-guard. When the Little Lions put a shot on goal in the opening seconds that was saved beautifully by Huskies’ goalie Conner Zimmerman, they quickly realized that they weren’t going to be able to score at will.
“That’s been our approach this year,” Mifflin County coach Robert Lepley said. “We are a great team at frustrating other teams… When we play defense like that, you generate offense out of defense. In the game of soccer, you just need one chance.”
Those chances were hard to come by for the Huskies as the Little Lions dominated possession of the ball in the first half. Led by Ty Clark and Grady Ballard, State College took its time getting good looks at the net, but couldn’t get on the board.
The Huskies defense, along with Zimmerman excelled at frustrating the Little Lions who began to take wild shots as the first half marched on with neither team scoring.
With State College maintaining possession of the ball for most of the half, the best chance for the Huskies to strike first came with four minutes remaining. Gavin Ream took a free kick and fired a shot, but missed.
State College attempted a few more shots in the closing minutes, but Zimmerman and the defense stayed strong, and took a 0-0 game into the half.
“In the first 40 minutes, our goal was to come out of the half at 0-0,” Lepley said. “Sit back and let State College play their game, let them possess far up the field and… tighten up the middle, protect the high-scoring zones and the kids did just that.”
Lepley credited the seniors for the strong defensive effort in the first half, and the game. The younger players all fed off of the play of the seniors, which led to the great team performance.
“I want to mention all the seniors: Leeum Noerr, Gavin Ream, Trent Shade and Josiah Yearick. Coming into the year, we didn’t know what was going to happen and how the season was going to play out,” Lepley said. “They have played hard every single game. They never quit and they’ve been a huge positive presence. We tell our younger players to listen to our older players.”
After the half, the Little Lions wasted no time brushing off their offensive woes from the first half. Just over a minute into the second half, Owen Adams buried a header off of a corner from Grady Ballard. The Little Lions celebrated the nice play, mostly due to the relief of finally getting on the board.
State College took the lead and didn’t slow down on offense, continuing to fire shot after shot at Zimmerman who played some of his best soccer of the season.
“He’s incredible. He does things that normal humans don’t do in goal,” Lepley said. “He’s naturally athletic and he’s fearless.”
The Huskies best chance to tie the game came around the 23 minute mark when they held the ball in State College’s territory for a few minutes. However, the Little Lions’ defense smothered any open Husky and Mifflin County was unable to get a good look on goal.
With time winding down, the Little Lions added three more goals to put the game on ice. The first came at 15:19, and the final two came with less than four minutes remaining.
“The score does not indicate–like our record does not indicate–what a quality team this is and what a quality game this was,” Lepley said. “We competed with a great commonwealth team.”
Mifflin County’s (1-10 record) playoff run is over, but its season will continue. According to Lepley, the team will have a few days to rest before playing their last two games of the season.
State College 4, Mifflin County 0
MC 0 0–0
SC 0 4–4
Goals: SC–Benjamin Garthwaite 2, John Cobes, Owen Adams. Assists: MC–Grady Ballard 2, Nile, Bice, Owen Hollobaugh. Shots: SC 33-3. Corners: SC 5-1. Saves: MC-13 (Conner Zimmerman), SC-1 (Sasha Mohoruk).