Wednesday, January 24, 2018
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Comets take rugged win over Mounts


Ephrata and Penn Manor had already locked up berths in the Lancaster-Lebanon League boys' lacrosse playoffs.
 
That said, on paper, Thursday's game between the two rivals didn't mean a whole lot.
 
Good luck selling that to anyone holding a lacrosse stick Thursday night at Millersville's Comet Field.
 
Getting the game-winner from Ian Martzall with 2:21 left in the game, Penn Manor clawed its way to a physical, 7-5 victory over Ephrata in the regular-season finale for both teams.
 
The win gives the Comets (10-2 L-L, 13-4 overall) the second seed for the L-L playoffs, which begin with Wednesday's semifinals. Along with Ephrata (9-3, 12-6), the defending L-L champion, Manheim Township (12-0, 16-1) and Hempfield (10-2, 13-5) are also in the playoff field.
 
At least, after Thursday night, Manor -- which has never won an L-L title -- and Ephrata know they're entering those playoffs battle-tested.
 
"I'd rather have this (kind of win going into the postseason)," Martzall said. "Because you know you can compete with the good teams, and it's good for your confidence."
 
As Martzall's score late in the fourth quarter was for the Comets.
 
Getting loose on a fastbreak with about two and a half minutes left in regulation, Manor midfielder Adam Hess looked up at one point and saw gold.
 
"I just remember I saw Marty (Martzall) streaking from the box and I said 'Oh, that's a goal. That's golden. That's Marty.' "
 
Seconds later, Hess fired a centering pass to Martzall, who one-timed a bullet past Ephrata goalie Justin Mease for a 6-5 Comets lead.
 
"Just elation," Martzall said of his emotion after the play. "I just tried to get (the shot) off as fast as I could. I just wanted to get it on goal. I didn't have a lot of time to think about it because it happened so fast."
 
With their confidence soaring, the Comets were equally quick in giving themselves some breathing room -- this time, compliments of Hess, who scored off a feed from Brady Charles 35 seconds later to make it 7-5 with 1:46 remaining.
 
Interestingly enough, both of Manor's final two goals came off Ephrata turnovers, which had been an issue for the Mountaineers all evening, according to coach Kevin Pletz.
 
"I think five of their seven goals came off (Ephrata) turnovers," Pletz said. "If we could have minimized our mistakes, it could have been a different game."
 
Those Mounts turnovers factored into the 36-27 shot advantage Manor had by game's end.
 
Still, it wasn't enough for the Comets to distance themselves from Ephrata, which -- after falling into a 3-2 hole with 11:47 left in the second quarter -- got back-to-back scores from Justin Hoover and Jeremy Kachel to take a 4-3 lead with 5:36 left before the half.
 
A scoring blast from the Comets' Wyatt Barnett with 3:39 left in the second evened the score at 4 by halftime.
 
After a scoreless third quarter, a rocket from the left wing by Charles with 9:49 remaining in the fourth was answered 4:23 later by a drive from Ephrata's Scott Gordon, setting the stage for Martzall's game-winner.
 
"We played four full quarters," Manor coach Ken Snyder said. "Everybody put in a full effort."
 
The question is, could putting so much effort into getting a win this close to playoff time be a good thing or a bad thing?
 
"As far as momentum ... " Snyder said with a grin. "We'll see next week."