Wednesday, January 24, 2018
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Mounts Set Stage for Showdown

In addition to dinner, perhaps it was also a form of comfort food.

Cupping a postgame hot dog and hamburger from the concession stand in his left hand, Kevin Pletz was asked to assess what he’d been watching for the last two hours.

“There weren’t many things we did well,” Ephrata’s boys’ lacrosse coach said, referring to Monday afternoon’s L-L League clash with Lampeter-Strasburg. “We threw the ball away too many times, we weren’t getting shots on the cage, we were a little lazy on defense, ground balls weren’t in our favor ... just a lot of things we weren’t doing well. We weren’t playing Ephrata lacrosse.”

The kicker? His guys still won.

Trailing 6-2 early in the third quarter, Ephrata responded with six unanswered goals to take the lead, and held on down the stretch for an 8-7 victory over the Pioneers in Lampeter.

“A win’s a win,” said Ephrata senior midfielder Koty Keefer, who led the Mountaineers with a gamehigh five goals. “You can never sleep on a team, especially not a team like Lampeter-Strasburg. It’s always a good gut check to come from behind and get the ‘W’ in any way possible.”

In addition to dampening the Pioneers’ (4-4, 5-5) hopes of earning one of the four available L-L playoff berths, Monday’s result also kept firmly intact the hype surrounding Friday night’s battle between Ephrata and Manheim Township.

The Mounts (8-0 L-L, 10-3 overall) and Township (7-0, 10-1) are currently tied atop the L-L standings, two games clear of both Hempfield (6-2, 10-2) and Warwick (6-2, 9-4).

Should neither team drop a game over the next few days, that deadlock will obviously be broken Friday, when Ephrata hosts the Blue Streaks for a 7 p.m. faceoff.

“We had that game marked on our schedule for a while now,” Keefer said.

And with that, enter the positive of Monday’s match, from Pletz’s standpoint.

“It was a reality check for us,” Pletz said. “I said if you guys want to beat Township on Friday, you can’t play the way we did today. So hopefully it’s a lesson learned.”

Using a tight zone defense to keep Ephrata out of the middle for much of the first half, L-S broke a 1-1 tie with goals from Alex Knarr, Jason Sindorf and a pair of scores from Nate Patterson to build a 5-2 halftime edge.

“We got back to fundamentals this week and we did a very good job of playing them fundamentally strong,” Pioneers coach Dave Warmingham said.

Still ...

“It’s a game of runs,” Warmingham said. “We had a run on them at the beginning and you know they’re going to come out (at some point) and have a run.”

After Alec Groff gave L-S a 6-2 lead 1:50 into the third quarter, Ephrata’s surge began with Justin Hoover’s goal off a pass from Keefer with 5:34 left in the period.

Less than a minute later, Keefer scored unassisted to make it 6-4, before adding a pair of unassisted scores in the final 56 seconds of the period to tie it at 6.

“In the third quarter going into the fourth I started feeling it a little bit,” Keefer admitted. “And the shots started falling.”

One of those was Keefer’s rocket from the top that gave Ephrata a 7-6 lead — its first since leading 1-0 — with 7:26 left to play.

And when Dustin Fisher netted a point-blank blast to make it 8-6 with 1:36 remaining, Ephrata was on its way.

L-S cut the lead to 8-7 with Max Warmingham’s put-away of a Teddy Mazaheri assist with 59.8 seconds left, but the Pioneers couldn’t find the equalizer down the stretch.

“Fortunately we were able to keep it close and even come back there at the end,” Dave Warmingham said. “We just ran out of time.”