LEWISTOWN - To describe Mifflin County's first-half performance against Carlisle in Thursday's Commonwealth Division girls soccer matchup as lackluster might be a little harsh.
But at times, it might have been on the mark. And at two times in the first half - just 28 seconds apart - the Huskies weren't on their mark, and the Thundering Herd took advantage. Those two first-half goals contributed to a 3-1 win for the visitors from Cumberland County.
It isn't that the Carlisle goals - the first two, anyway - weren't the result of good play by the Herd offense. But it will always stick in the mind of Mifflin County coach Steven DeArment that they could have been better defended.
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY KREITZER
Mifflin County’s Kaitlyn Eckley (32) battles for the ball with Carlisle’s Paige Finkenbinder Thursday evening in Lewistown.
"The first one was a great strike, but she had zero pressure. The second goal, zero pressure," he said. "We sat back on defense, we didn't charge down shooters, we didn't charge down the ball."
Rylie Patterson scored the first goal with 16 minutes left in the opening half, booting a near-perfect bend from the corner of the box and sliding it behind Halle Fisher to the open side of the goal.
But the real pain came on the restart - well, 28 seconds after the restart - when Michaela Coplen broke through the backfield untouched and popped the ball over everyone's head and into the net.
* Mifflin County travels to Central Dauphin Saturday
It was symptomatic of the entire first half. Mifflin County was passive on the ball, allowing Carlisle to win touches and restarts that not only were 50-50, but those that clearly should have been in the Huskies' favor. DeArment hinted that perhaps his team has been spoiled by playing so much on perfect surfaces, rather than the narrower, crowned grass field Mifflin County calls home.
"We played in the first half as though we were scared of the field. When we play on turf they play a different game. We're confident on the ball," he said. "Everything in the first half was a touch to settle, a touch to move myself and now I'm going to finally play the ball. But there wasn't that kind of time."
It wasn't like that after the break, but it was too late for Mifflin County to capitalize. Coplen got her second of the game before five minutes lapsed into the second half - a header off a corner kick- and two minutes later the Huskies finally broke the shutout.
Megan Becker was the one who scored for Mifflin County, getting the last kick on a scrum in front of the net. But even with ball control suddenly playing to the home team's favor, shots were at a premium - the Huskies had only four in the game - and that was the only ball that would get in the goal.
"In the second half we played harder, we played faster," DeArment said. "When you look at the second half it's a game we could have controlled. We gave up and early goal but we controlled the game after that."
Mifflin County (1-5, 1-5) travels to Central Dauphin Saturday.