By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
HUGHESVILLE -- Danville's Gage Reber got the pass and started dribbling a bit before he saw teammate Shayne Riley to his right, nearly 11 yards from the goal. Reber quickly passed to Riley, who wasted little time and fired a shot to the opposite side of the net past diving Mifflinburg keeper Nick Bachorski.
Bachorski stayed down on his knees, face buried in his hands for a few moments as Danville celebrated.
The senior knew the Ironmen's goal was one the Wildcats couldn't afford to give up. Sure enough, Danville's defense held the remainder of the game to preserve a 2-1 win over Mifflinburg at Raymond Perritt Soccer Stadium Saturday in the District 4 Class AA boys soccer quarterfinals.
The Danville defense only allowed two total shots in the game, one a goal from Alex Kroft nearly 10 minutes into the second half from only a few yards out to tie the game at 1-all.
The Mifflinburg goal got Danville refocused and zoned in.
"We have a never-give-up attitude; we never put our heads down. I think that goal sort of woke us up. I think we were a little sluggish," Danville coach Brian Dressler said. "Woke us up and we came out and just attacked. We had a couple good attacks and good chances and got the goal there."
The Ironmen struck first when Riley scored from nearly 10 yards out to the right side off a pass from Andrew Smith with 15:38 to play.
While the Ironmen may have taken most of their shots in the first half, it was the second half when they played better all-around, keeping possessions in Mifflinburg's end.
"The second half we started talking a lot more," Danville goalie Chris Dempsey said. "We started picking it up after we let the goal in because we didn't want the season to end. We just kept fighting and played better and talked more."
Despite the lack of offensive production from Mifflinburg, the Wildcats stayed with Danville the entire game, especially defensively. Danville fired eight shots at Bachorski in the half, but the senior stepped up for six saves while the Wildcats back line kept Danville from routinely getting good looks.
"I thought we had a good 10, 15 minutes there where we actually were on our front foot and they were in their end quite a bit," Mifflinburg coach Dan Gehers said. "It's more their offensive guys we couldn't (slow). They got a lot of weapons that come up the middle -- size plus some speed. (It) makes our match-ups a little tough."
The match-ups for Mifflinburg got even tougher when senior midfielder Clair Ferguson -- one of Mifflinburg's best players -- got hurt with 27 seconds to play in the first half. He didn't return in the second half.