MIDDLEBURG — It would be fair to assume Mifflinburg is a second-half team. Fair, but incorrect.
On Saturday, the Wildcats broke a scoreless tie in the District Four girls soccer championship, scoring twice in the second half.
Tuesday night, in a PIAA Class 3A first-round match at Midd-West High School’s Sports Boosters Athletic Park, they rode a pair of second-half goals to a 2-1 victory over Elco, advancing to Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Their opponent is yet to be determined. Archbishop Ryan and Villa Joseph Marie were four minutes into the second overtime Tuesday when their game, which started at 3 p.m., was called for darkness. The teams will return to Conwell Egan High School today to complete the match.
“I don’t know that we’re a second-half team,” said coach Erich Hankamer, whose Wildcats improved to 20-1. “I feel like we just wake up a little bit more in the second half.”
Elco entered the match having not scored in 232 minutes, since Sophie Irvin’s goal in the 68th minute of the district quarterfinal.
On the other hand, the Raiders (16-5) hadn’t allowed a goal in 242 minutes.
Something had to give, eventually. Unfortunately, it was the shutout string, which reached 286 minutes before Taylor Beachy’s entry header, off a feed from Kennedy Good, got behind Raider keeper Samantha Nelson. With an open net in front of her, and Nelson behind her, Beachy finished in the 44th minute.
Eight and a half minutes later, Beachy got a ball through to Sarah Fritz, whose finish gave the ’Cats a 2-0 lead.
“The first goal is a little deflating, the way things happened,” said Raiders coach Derek Fulk. “I don’t know if there was a lack of communication there or what the story was. It seemed like once they scored the second goal, it lit a fire under us.”
Forty seconds after Mifflinburg’s second goal, Elco caught fire. Off a foul, Carsyn Boyer took a free kick that came into the box, right to Abby Sargent, who bodied it home.
With renewed intensity, the Raiders worked for the equalizer, with eight opportunities and three shots on goal, but never found it. With less than a minute to play, they had what may have been their best chance of the half when Kailey Eckhart crossed from the right wing, just missing a wide open Julia Bidelspach on the far post.
It took both teams the majority of the first half to get into a flow. “We had a couple good opportunities early in the half,” Hankamer said, “then Elco really hunkered themselves down.”
“We knew we were probably going to start slow,” said Fulk. “Long drive, we’re on the bus for a long time, and we did come out a little sluggish. I thought we did a much better job in the second half.”
Over the course of 10 minutes in the middle of the first half, they piled up three good chances by Boyer, two on free kicks from 35 and 40 yards. With less than two minutes to play, Middleburg keeper Kristi Benfield misplayed Campbell Foltz’s entry into the box. Eckhart was there but, dogged by a collapsing defender, her shot went wide of the net, over the endline and into halftime.
Moon 1, Ephrata 0: After nearly 60 scoreless minutes, Moon midfielder Kayla Leseck found the back of the net to put the host Tigers on the board. The junior's seventh goal of the season stood as the game-winner and ended the Mounts' season.
The Tigers will face Owen J. Roberts, a 2-0 winner over Wilson, in Saturday's quarterfinal round.