Wednesday, January 24, 2018
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Hempfield edges Mounts


Getting three goals and two assists from Zach Ward and a workmanlike defensive effort that kept Ephrata scoring threat Koty Keefer contained for most of the match, defending LL Champ Hempfield outlasted the Mountaineers for an 11-8 L-L League semifinal victory at Penn Manor’s Comet Field.

Earning the right to defend its title Thursday was anything but easy for Hempfield, which trailed Ephrata 3-2 after the first quarter and was tied 5-5 at halftime, before Ward enabled the Knights to retake the lead (7-6) with his putback of a Colin Strange rebound with 2:28 left in the third quarter.

Getting three goals and two assists from Zach Ward and a workmanlike defensive effort that kept Ephrata scoring threat Koty Keefer contained for most of the match, defending LL Champ Hempfield outlasted the Mountaineers for an 11-8 L-L League semifinal victory at Penn Manor’s Comet Field.

Earning the right to defend its title Thursday was anything but easy for Hempfield, which trailed Ephrata 3-2 after the first quarter and was tied 5-5 at halftime, before Ward enabled the Knights to retake the lead (7-6) with his putback of a Colin Strange rebound with 2:28 left in the third quarter.

“They had a lot of fight,” Hempfield coach Dave Ondrusek said of the Mountaineers (13-6) afterward. “They’re a strong bunch of kids.”

All Ephrata needed, perhaps, was a larger bunch of kids, to endure Hempfield's relentless attacks on Tuesday evening.

Battling a lack of depth all season, fatigue started to show in the final quarter for the Mounts, shortly after they tied it at 7 on a score by Justin Hoover (team-high four goals) 59 seconds into the period.

It was at that point that Hempfield responded with three straight goals from Cullen Dussinger, Ward and Sean Valentino in a span of 1:06 — giving them a 10-7 edge with 7:48 left to play — and the Knights were on their way.

“We just ran out of steam,” Ephrata coach Kevin Pletz said.

“You wanted to yell at them (the Mounts),” he added with a light grin, “but you could tell they were giving all they had.”

Ephrata eventually ended a scoring drought of more than seven minutes when Colin Cammauf netted a pointblank shot to make it 10-8 with 3:50 left to play, only to have Hempfield’s Tyler Kline answer with a score 17 seconds later, providing the final margin.

“I think we just started executing a little better down the stretch,” Ondrusek said.