LEWISTOWN - Nine games and no wins.
That's how the Mifflin County boys soccer team began the week. And with Central Dauphin East coming to town Tueday and the Huskies traveling to Cumberland Valley Thursday, that first win was going to be hard to find.
But in its 10th game, the Huskies did something they had not done since last October. That's win a soccer game.
Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Mifflin County’s James Wilburne (3) controls the ball away from Central Dauphin East’s Hassan Ndigejeje (8) Tuesday evening in Lewistown. See more photos online at cu.lewistownsentinel.com
And with the help of two Evan Zewe goals - his first two of the season - and some stifling keeper play from Derek Heimbach, Mifflin County picked up its first win of the season, a 3-2 decision over Central Dauphin East.
"It was just the most exciting thing I've ever been a part of," Heimbach said. "We've came nine games and it's so nice to finally get one."
The Huskies have played seven conference games leading up to this one, all of which have been losses. But Mifflin County has been close.
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Mifflin County travels to Cumberland Valley Thursday
"It feels good to get a win that's for sure," Mifflin County coach Jared Byler said. "All season long we've had some games where we've been so close to coming out with a win. Tonight we fought our way to a victory."
Nearly three weeks ago, the Huskies traveled to Mechanicsburg for their first Mid-Penn Conference tilt. Mifflin County came out of that game on the short end - falling 2-0. But Byler made it clear that this was a good game for the Huskies to win.
"We're going to enjoy the win for what it is today," he said. "We have to prepare for Cumberland Valley. We can't focus on this win too much or we'll lose our focus."
Heimbach, Mifflin County's senior keeper, has been keeping the Huskies in just about every conference game thus far. When the defense plays well and Heimbach plays well, Mifflin County has a chance to win.
The goalie made several crucial saves throughout the game, keeping an early Husky lead intact. But credit the Mifflin County defense - without them, Heimbach said he wouldn't be able to get touches on some of the balls.
"Our defense plays really well," Heimbach said. "Some kids really stepped up and did a good job."
It didn't take long for Mifflin County to solidify itself as the team to beat Tuesday. Just after Byler left the Huskies with a resounding speech telling them they'll get their first win, Mifflin County responded less than a minute in.
Junior forward Andrew Moon controlled the ball on the right side in front of the Central Dauphin East bench. The Huskies had a nice rush going. Moon sent the ball inside and after Ian McGinnis got his foot on the ball, Zewe finished just 23 seconds into the contest.
"That was a nice combination," Byler said. "Andy was able to serve up a nice ball."
In this league, there's no question that getting on the board first is crucial. That's exactly what Mifflin County tries to do.
"We tell these guys we want the first goal of every game," Byler said. "As long as we're the first ones to score we're in it."
Mifflin County's defense was good from the start. And while its offense was looking for a breakaway down the middle of the field, Central Dauphin East would finally have a chance at its first tally.
East's Hassan Ndigejeje was taken down in the Huskies box and that led to a penalty kick for the Panthers. Ndigejeje was able to fool Heimbach and cash in top shelf to get the Panthers on the board and knot the score.
Things settled down with the Huskies and Panthers playing mostly in the middle of the field until the seven-minute mark of the first half.
And Zewe would dent the net again.
Ben Knepp sent in a deep service from the right side of the field toward the East goalie. After a scramble ensued, Zewe was in the right place at the right time and finished for the Huskies.
Four minutes later, it was Moon's chance.
The Husky junior fielded a ball over the top from the Mifflin County defense. He touched it two or three times and sent a lofted shot over keeper Rotman Saltos to give the Huskies a 3-1 lead heading into the second half.
Central Dauphin East added it final tally just 13 minutes into the second half when Kareem Riley buried a deflection off Heimbach. From there, it was all Tucker Bachman and the Mifflin County defense.
"Some people that weren't here missed a great defensive performance by Tucker," Byler said. "He was able to win a lot of 50-50 balls and that was impressive."
Byler said Cumberland Valley comes in as the top team in the state in boys soccer. Earlier this season, the Huskies fell to the Eagles 9-1. Heimbach expects the Huskies to be better and show the Eagles what they can do.
"Cumberland Valley is always going to be tough," he said. "I definitely think we can hold them down more than we did last time. Lets hope our defense shows up again."