Wednesday, January 24, 2018
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Moore, Mounts take down Eagles

A crisp, October evening with the distinct feel of playoff soccer.

A packed, senior night crowd.

TV in the house.

A backyard rival across the mid-pitch stripe, desperate for a victory.

Everything was in place for the Ephrata girls soccer team Monday night.

Taylor Moore's putaway in the 21st minute was the only marker of the match as the Mounts defeated visiting Cocalico 1-0.

The victory nailed down the third, and final, spot allotted to Section Two teams in the L-L League playoffs, which begin Saturday.

As the No. 3 seed from Section Two, Ephrata (9-3-1 league, 12-4-1 overall) will face the Section One champion, likely Hempfield, site and time to be determined.

It will be the Mountaineers first appearance in the L-Ls in quite a bit, as related by Mounts coach Wes Deininger.

"This was the third straight year we came into this game with whoever winning it having a shot at the playoffs," Deininger said. "We got 'em on the third go-round."

It also marks the first time the Eagles (7-4-2, 8-5-3) will miss the L-Ls after a lengthy run of qualification.

In a match played to the accompaniment of a strong wind from out of the south — not to mention a brief, first-half shower — opportunities were hard to come by for the home side. Harder still for the visitors.

Ephrata had 16 scoring chances, translating to eight shots on goal.

Cocalico had nine opportunities and four shots. The Eagles were hampered by the inability to connect on passes in the offensive third.

"We'd have possession," Eagles coach Dan Hogan shared, "and then ... they were in a lot of passing lanes that we try to take advantage of."

Meanwhile, the speedy Mounts were burning up the turf and stringing passes together like popcorn on a Christmas tree. Only to be turned away by central defenders Brooke Meckley and Lea Dungan, who seemed to be everywhere.

But, midway through the first half, the Mounts found an opening.

"I screamed about it about five seconds before it happened," Hogan said. "They found one gap."

Kelly Liebl, the Mounts centerback, sent a ball out to Jenna Yarger, jetting down the right side.

Yarger saw Moore in the middle and made the connection.

"Kelly played a great ball and Jenna had a great pass to me," Moore said. "It was all teamwork."

Moore collected the ball inside the 12, took a touch as keeper Emily White came out, then took two more.

That took her past White and onto the doorstep. She didn't miss.

The Eagles picked up their game in the second half, but couldn't penetrate the Mounts' defense.

In fact, it was a stellar play by Meckley, clearing Brittany Lutz's shot off the line with 2:34 to play, that kept the Eagles hopes alive.

'Til the final horn extinguished them.