Monday, December 18, 2017
Text Size

Pioneers snap Mounts' Streak

Paul Keller waited ... and waited ... and waited ... in front of the Lampeter- Strasburg goal as the ball bounced around in the zone in front of him and Ephrata, trailing 1-0, tried to organize one final attempt at a comeback in the waning seconds of another Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Two boys soccer clash at Ephrata Middle School.

“I wasn’t looking at the clock the whole game,” said Keller, the Pioneers’ senior goalkeeper. “I didn’t want to know how close we were (to the final whistle). I wanted to stay in it the whole time. When I finally heard the buzzer, I chest-bumped our center-back, Seth (Beers), right away. I was pretty happy.”

With Keller’s seven save shutout in a 1-0 decision, the Pioneers (6-5-0 L-L, 8-6-0 overall) ended Ephrata’s season-long unbeaten streak. Lampeter-Strasburg had lost two of its previous three league games and three of its previous five.

“It was a good win for us,” Lampeter-Strasburg coach Gino DiSomma said, “emotionally and mentally. We’ve been struggling here with showing up and playing every game. We beat some good teams. Lost to some good teams. But for us to really, I’d say, almost put a complete game together, I was finally happy to see that.”

Dereck Eckman delivered the lone goal of the game, sliding into space and punching in a pass from Logan Heister at 26:33.

“That was a big boost,” said Eckman, a junior, “for our confidence.”

With the one-goal advantage at halftime, the Pioneers turned their attention to containing the Ephrata triumvirate of midfielder AJ Morales and forwards Aaron Cummings and Andrey Patrushev.

“I was focusing on not as much offense,” Eckman said, “but dropping back. Their strikers are incredible. Their touches are really good, and we just wanted to shut them down.”

The Mountaineers (10-1-0, 13-1-0) challenged the L-S defense throughout the second half, sparked by Morales, Cummings and Patrushev, as well as rounds of attack from sophomore Tyler Shue.

Lampeter- Strasburg’s defense, anchored by seniors Tyler Thorius and Jordan Sweger, answered throughout the final 40 minutes.

“We’ve been facing a lot of speedsters in the striker position,” DiSomma said. “For us to eventually realize how to properly cover that and eliminate the counterattack was tremendous.”

At the other end, Ephrata goalkeeper Cole Hummel collected six saves throughout the evening. In the section standings, second-place Elizabethtown picked up ground on the Mounts on Wednesday with a 1-0 overtime win at Cocalico. Brady Kreider scored the game-winning goal for the Bears (8-2-1, 11-2-1) in the 99th minute.