Monday, January 22, 2018
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Section 2 title goes to Mounts


As a traditional part of Senior Night at Cocalico, Lucas Diciano was introduced prior to Monday night's game with Ephrata while the PA announcer read a brief biography of the Eagles' goalie to the crowd.
 
One of the questions Diciano was asked to answer in preparation for Monday's festivities: What's your favorite soccer memory?
 
Diciano's response: "The night we beat Ephrata on Senior Night."
 
Clever, for sure.
 
But, unfortunately for Diciano and his teammates, the Mountaineers weren't in the mood to make Senior Night wishes come true.
 
Even though, at that point, they had nothing left to play for. And even though Cocalico had everything to play for.
 
Getting a timely goal in each half, not to mention a superbly-resilient effort from its defense, Ephrata put an exclamation point on the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Two boys' soccer title it locked up earlier in the day by outlasting Cocalico, 2-0, Monday night in Denver.
 
The Mounts (11-2 Section, 13-3-1 overall) started the day thinking they'd have to win Monday night to clinch the section, only to have it hand-delivered to them Monday afternoon when second-place Manheim Central (9-4 Section) lost a 1-0 decision to Lampeter-Strasburg.
 
It was Ephrata's first section title since 2007, when it shared the Section Two crown with Elizabethtown.
 
Meanwhile, Cocalico (7-5-1, 10-5-1), which started the day in third place, watched its L-L playoff hopes go on serious life support.
 
With L-S's win and Garden Spot's 3-2 victory over Elizabethtown Monday, Cocalico fell into fifth place in the section standings with one regular-season game remaining.
 
That said, in order to secure the section's third and final L-L playoff berth, the Eagles would have to win their regular-season finale at last-place Lebanon on Wednesday and hope Garden Spot (8-5 Section, which plays at Ephrata) and L-S (8-5 Section, which hosts E-town), both lose.
 
That Ephrata was able to be worry-free of all the aforementioned playoff scenarios Monday was certainly a benefit as the Mounts took on their long-standing, backyard rival.
 
"I think in the locker room before the game, (hearing the section was already clinched) gave us an adrenaline boost," Ephrata goalie Kole DeHaven said.
 
It didn't take long for that to show on the field.
 
In fact, after dodging a few bullets from Senior-Night-amped Cocalico in the contest's first few minutes, the Mounts needed only 9:29 to build a 1-0 lead.
 
Picking up a long feed down the right flank, Ephrata's Trevor Boyer rifled a shot across the goalmouth that Diciano dove to collect.
 
But when the ball slipped underneath Diciano's outstretched arms and onto the foot of wide-open Andrew Moore, who was stationed by the far post, Moore calmly nudged the eventual gamewinner into a wide-open net.
 
"For us, it was important to come out and make a statement," Ephrata coach Rob Deininger said. "It was important for us to get up early and put the pressure on them."
 
And constant pressure, according to Deininger, is the heart of his team's defense. And something that explains why the Mounts have given up just one goal in their last five games and just nine all season.
 
"Our defense starts with our strikers up top and works back through our midfielders," Deininger explained. "Everybody pressures the ball. Our back four (defenders) have also been great all year and Kole is very technical as a goalkeeper. It's very hard to get balls behind us."
 
Not that Cocalico wasn't trying, especially in this rivalry.
 
In fact, by game's end both teams had eight shots, with Ephrata holding a 3-2 edge in corners and a slim 10-8 edge in scoring opportunities.
 
Problem for Cocalico was ...
 
"To (Ephrata's) credit, they got stronger as the game wore on," Eagles coach Bob Dungan said. "We didn't have an answer for them pushing forward."
 
Dungan was particularly referring to the second half, in which the Mounts produced seven dangerous scoring chances to just three for Cocalico.
 
The backbreaker, again, came under 10:00 into the second half.
 
After Boyer sent a corner kick from the right flag sizzling through the traffic in front of the net, Ephrata's Matthew Faller, standing by the far post, redirected it into the left side for a 2-0 Mounts edge.
 
Still, but for four huge saves from DeHaven -- the highlight of which was a diving stop on a huge blast from Cocalico's Danny Graybill with 10:20 left before halftime -- the Eagles might have tied it.
 
"(The second Ephrata goal) definitely helps you relax more," DeHaven said. "I can calm down and focus on what I have to do as a goalie to get the job done."
 
Equally relaxing, no doubt, was knowing his team had wrapped up a section title before it even took the field.