Wednesday, January 24, 2018
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Mounts Stay on Winning Course


Obviously, for programs like Wilson or Manheim Central football, Lancaster Catholic girls' basketball or Lancaster Mennonite soccer, the term "rebuilding year" has a different meaning than it does at other places.
 
Basically, while massive graduation numbers mean the names on the roster will change, their long-running tradition of success doesn't.
 
Before long, you might need to add Ephrata's boys' lacrosse program to that list.
 
Powered by three goals from Scott Gordon — including two in a pivotal second half — Ephrata maintained its hold on the Lancaster-Lebanon League lead with an 8-4 victory over visiting Lampeter-Strasburg Thursday night.
 
At the midway point of the league season, the Mountaineers (7-0 L-L, 9-2 overall) find themselves with a half-game edge over Manheim Township (6-0, 10-1).
 
This, after graduating 10 key seniors from last year's L-L League and District Three championship team, including three L-L First-Team All-Stars, one of whom was All-American goalie Brian Neff.
 
"This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for us," Ephrata coach Kevin Pletz said. "But the guys have done a great job of stepping up."
 
As they did when it mattered Thursday.
 
Still clinging to a 5-4 lead after three quarters, the Mounts finally gave themselves some breathing room thanks to a pair of scores from Gordon in a 1:45 span midway through the fourth.
 
After getting a centering pass from Koty Keefer with 8:20 left in the contest, Gordon one-timed a shot under L-S goalie Haydn Fernitz to put Ephrata up 6-4.
 
He followed that with a point-blank blast off a feed from Chris Husson that made it 7-4 Mounts with 6:35 remaining.
 
"Those goals were huge," said Pletz, who also got a team-best five points (two goals, three assists) from Colin Cammauf. "The longer we let (L-S) stay in the game, the more they believe they can win."
 
There was plenty of reason for that belief Thursday, thanks to a gritty effort from the Pioneers (5-3, 5-6), a budding program with only two seniors on its 46-player roster.
 
Fueled by a goal and an assist from both Nate Patterson and Max Warmingham in the first half, L-S never trailed by more than two in the first three quarters.
 
Down 5-3 after Gordon scored on a 1-on-1 situation with Fernitz with 6:11 remaining in the second quarter, the Pioneers closed the gap to 5-4 on Kyle Reese's drive with 1:17 left before the break.
 
All while keeping Ephrata's attack respectably at bay — resulting in the Mounts' slim 21-17 shot advantage by game's end.
 
"The (Pioneers) defense was phenomenal ..." L-S coach Dave Warmingham said. "And we had looks on offense, but we just needed to be a little more effective and finish the plays.
 
"Overall, though, I couldn't be happier. I think the (Pioneers) did a great job. To hang with the (defending league) champs is great."
 
Backed by 13 saves from junior goalie Justin Mease, Ephrata's defense was similarly great — especially in the second half, when it held L-S scoreless.
 
Meanwhile, "forcing the ball too much," on offense, according to Pletz, likely had a hand in the Mounts' inability to distance themselves until the final eight minutes.
 
"I'd like (Ephrata's players) to be 100 percent every game," Pletz said. "But I can't expect them to have their best game every game."
 
After all, it is a rebuilding year.
 
Even if it doesn't seem that way to Ephrata's opponents these days.