HERSHEY>> There was never a moment when Governor Mifflin looked or felt outclassed.
Accordingly, 83 minutes and change of fight delivered one of the biggest upsets in the history of the girls’ soccer program.
Gillian Maack’s free kick conversion from a Beckham-esque angle 3:43 into overtime gave the Mustangs a stunning 2-1 upset of the top-seeded Cumberland Valley Eagles Saturday night in the quarterfinals of the District 3 4A tournament, held at Hershey High School.
The top-seeded Eagles (19-3-0) entered the match with 19 wins in 21 tries but, thanks to Maack’s extra-session heroics, shockingly saw its season ended before Halloween.
Mifflin (17-5-1) advances to play Manheim Township in the 4A semifinals on Tuesday, in Hamburg. The Blue Streaks upended Wilson, 1-0, in their quarterfinal match.
After being taken down, Maack took her free kick about five yards closer to the left-hand corner flag than she was to the near goal post, on a near-parallel plane. She applied sharp bend to the kick and the ball somehow found the far low corner of the net, untouched, to end it.
“Right as I hit it, I don’t know even know how I did it, but it kept curving and curving and curved went in,” Maack said. “I thought maybe someone would get their head on it, but it went right in.”
Maack resonated with the confidence that had enveloped the entire Mifflin squad as the game progressed. The Mustangs were bright and they matched, or exceeded, the play of their highly-touted foes Saturday night. Mifflin outshot CV by an 8-3 count, expanding on a margin that had been 3-2 at the halftime break.
“We knew what had to do and we had been preparing for it,” she said. “We knew how good they were and we just decided to leave it all out on the field. All our hard work, all season, leave it out here. We were all over it.”
Moments after the winning strike, veteran Mifflin head coach Ed Deren called it the biggest moment of his 25-year coaching career — this, coming from a man who led the Mustangs to the 2012 D-3 title.
“We won that district championship in ’12 and that was amazing,” Deren said, “but we’ve gone up against Cumberland Valley five or six times and we’ve gotten close, but could never get over the hump. And we know that’s one of the five or six top teams in the state over there that we played tonight.”
A stout defensive effort all match long set the parameters for victory. Mifflin’s mids and back line were aggressive on the ball without being overly so, and thereby risk getting pulled out of shape.
“I watched a bunch of tape on them and I was confident that we could make some things happen and use their aggressive style against hem at times, counter their counters,” Deren said. “It was risky, but I have a lot of faith in my defenders and they shifted and did what they had to do. I asked them to cover a lot of ground and play smart soccer and they really did. … As long as we stayed in the game, we had a chance.”
CV’s only successful unlocking came in the 34th minute, when Mallory Johnson took a well-weighted feed from Gina Lukoskie in the box and beat Mifflin goalkeeper Katelyn Dreielbis to the far post for a 1-0 CV lead.
That advantage lasted barely four minutes. Hailey Payne pulled the Mustangs level on the first of their two surreal shots with a 40-yard arcing offering that bounced high at the goal line in front of CV keeper Hayley McGee and over her head to knot it at 1 in the 38th minute.
“I would say that’s good clean, livin’ on someone’s part,” Deren said, “because it doesn’t always happen like that. Some days the ball bounces your way like that and other days it doesn’t.”
Deren took a moment to try and quantify what his girls had just pulled off on a brisk, windy night in Hershey.
“It’s a tremendous feeling to beat a team like that,” he said. “We’ve talked about getting to this point. We believed that we should be here. The girls believed that. We’ve played a lot of really good teams this year.
“I just wanted us to keep pressing them. Don’t let them comfortable, because if they get comfortable, you’re in trouble. We had to maintain the high pressure, because if you don’t, they’ll get ya.”
District 3 4A quarterfinal
Governor Mifflin 2, Cumberland Valley 1 (OT)
CV – Mallory Johnson (Gina Lukoskie), 33:24
GM – Hailey Payne, 37:41
GM – Gillian Maack, 83:43
Shots on goal
GM 8, CV 3
GM 2, CV 1
GM (Katelyn Dreibelbis) 2, CV (Hayley McGee) 6
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