Monday, January 22, 2018
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Hess lifts Bears over Mounts

The second half of the league schedule kicked off Tuesday and for Ephrata, it offered a chance to jump back into Section Two title race with a win.

Instead, it was Elizabethtown (7-0-1 L-L, 9-1-1 overall), buoyed by the return of Joel Hess, grinding out a 1-0 victory to stay a two points clear of Manheim Central (60-2, 8-0-3) in the race for the top spot in Section Two.

Turning point: Hess found space inside the Ephrata defense and received a pass from Jereme Wells (team-leading third assist), slotting it far post past Mountaineers’ keeper Jimmy Hickey. The goal marked Hess’ return to play after missing the last three games due to injury and was his 11th of the season.

“Their goal, they worked for it and made a nice play. They caught us a little flatfooted,” Ephrata head coach Rob Deininger said of the Bears’ tally.

Star of the game: The Elizabethtown midfield and defense, which clamped down an Ephrata squad that had won five straight, outscoring opponents 18-5 during that stretch.

“That’s been our story all season. If you look at all of our games, most teams are only getting one or two shots,” E-town head coach James Sostack said. “Our center backs, Chad Mentzer and Derek Stoltzfus, are having an incredible season. (Midfielder) Chris Bair the last three games has played so well and (midfielder) Christian Wieand has been steadfast for us throughout the season. We win the midfield battles and it lessens the pressure on the defense.’’

Key statistic: The Bears held an 8-5 shot advantage but there was a startling advantage in the quality of those chances, with first-half headed balls from Daniel Husmann (shot wide) and Adan Cabrera-Perez (off post) almost giving the Bears an earlier leads.

Quotable: “I think what we’re doing, is the same thing Manheim Central is doing — don’t slip up,” Sostack said. “Make October 4 like a championship game, which is what these kids play for.”

If the Barons and Bears each win their three league games between now and then, the winner would have the inside track for the Section Two crown with two games remaining.

Up next: Both teams take the field Thursday with Ephrata visiting Lebanon (3-2-2, 4-5-2) and Elizabethtown hosting Solanco (3-3-1, 4-4-1).