Monday, January 22, 2018
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Ephrata Downs Cocalico to Stay Undefeated

Following a rather lackluster first half in a tight, back-and-forth Lancaster-Lebanon League boys soccer game against visiting Cocalico, host Ephrata stepped up the pressure in the second half. Three corner kicks, though, didn’t lead to a change on the scoreboard.

That would instead come on a goal scored in a rather unconventional way in the 66th minute when Mounts’ junior midfielder Aaron Cummings fed a pass in along the baseline out in front of the net to teammate Gabe Sensenig. Feeling the presence of a pair of defenders around him and seeing opposing keeper Peyton Stetter in his peripherals to his right, Sensenig used the back of his foot to send a slow roller to the opposite side of the net and past Stetter’s outstretched arms.

The score proved to be the game-winner in a 2-1 L-L League victory over visiting Cocalico, keeping Ephrata (11-0-1 overall, 8-0-1 league) unbeaten and atop the Section Two standings.

“I just checked the ball, looked to the goalie over my shoulder. I saw him,” Sensenig said of the score afterwards. “I had to get it in somehow.”

Though head coach Rob Deininger admitted his club didn’t have its best performance Thursday, the signs were there as to why the Mounts are the lone remaining undefeated team in the L-L League.

Playing its traditional 4-4-2 setup, Ephrata is strong at just about every level. It usually starts with the defense, which had only allowed five goals all year entering Thursday. However, Cocalico (3-7-2, 2-5-2) struck for an early 1-0 lead just 59 seconds into Thursday’s contest. Then again, the Eagles have now lost six of seven games this season by one-goal margins and tied two other games, so Cocalico has been tough on just about every opponent.

“We gave up a goal in the first (60) seconds. Kaboom,” Deininger said. “But good teams find a way to win and we found a way to win.”

The most troublesome part for Ephrata’s opponents this season is likely the Mounts’ front line with the talents of Cummings, Sensenig and Andrey Patrushev, all three of whom have the ability to create their own space, elude defenders and pick and choose where they like to place shots on goal. Ephrata’s 44 goals entering Thursday was tops in the league.

“We’ve just been playing together for awhile,” Sensenig said when asked what makes the front line so strong. “We play on the same club team. We’re just with each other all the time.”

Plus, Deininger said this bunch loves being out on the field.

“These guys have been positive all year,” Deininger said. “They love to play. We’re supposed to be done with practice and they want to keep going 15 minutes longer. They push themselves.”

Now about halfway into the season, the undefeated target is likely to grow in size in the coming weeks. But Sensenig, who also had an assist Thursday night, isn’t much concerned.

“We don’t pay attention to it too much,” he said. “We just come out here and try to win as best we can.”