Sunday, February 18, 2018
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Blazers' Rally Sinks Mounts

Ephrata was seven minutes away from walking out of Manheim Central’s Elden Rettew Field with a stolen victory in the L-L League boys soccer tournament semifinals on Tuesday night when the fusillade the Mounts had been dodging from Lancaster Mennonite all evening finally landed.

The Blazers’ Tyler Wagner sent a drop pass from just in front of the baseline to Brett Diller, closing in the box.

Diller’s strike hit the underside of the crossbar then dropped in to draw the Blazers (20-0) even with Ephrata, with 6:28 to play.

Two minutes later, Matthew Lynch, fresh off a hat trick in the quarterfinals, threaded a shot through the legs of keeper Cole Hummel for the game-winner, and Mennonite advanced to Thursday’s championship game with a 2-1 victory.

“I saw a through ball coming in,” Lynch said. “The defender came in a little bit hard, so I just cut it.

“I was patient, I saw the keeper and I just put it through his legs.”

Mennonite dominated from the opening tap, with eight shots on goal and 12 chances at the half to two and five for the Mountaineers (154).

With the Mounts often playing with nine defenders behind the ball, the trend continued 20 minutes into the second half with the Blazers piling up six more opportunities and three more shots on goal.

“Coach (Fred Winey) was emphasizing during halftime to keep our heads in it and hope for the ball to come,” Lynch said, “to keep believing that we’d get our chance.”

“Come playoff time you know teams are going to defend with resilience,” Winey said. “You just keep trying to create opportunities and hope that some go in.”

Ephrata, meanwhile, had two chances and no shots.

Then, on the Mounts’ only shot of the half, Andrey Petrushev blasted a 35-yard shot from the left wing that nestled into the back of the net for a 1-0 Mounts lead.

Ephrata missed a golden opportunity to double that advantage with just under eight minutes to go.

Blazer keeper Carter Hurst turned the ball over in the box and it went directly to a surprised JT Truskey, who could not get off a dangerous shot.

“When that happens you’re startled and the ball bounces a little bit,” Mounts coach Rob Deininger said. “It would’ve been nice if we could’ve executed on that. But, it’s nobody’s fault.”

A minute later, the Blazers patience, and pressure, paid off.