Wednesday, January 24, 2018
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Cocalico downs upstart Ephrata

The Ephrata girls’ lacrosse team earlier this week earned its fifth win of the season, matching last year’s win total (5-13) in just the team’s sixth game this spring.

That was notable in its own right, but even more so when considering Mounts head coach Kirstin Schneider had previously said she only returned about half her starters and had other starters new to the sport this year.

Perhaps those first couple weeks of play for the Mounts were a bit of an anomaly, though. A closer look at those five wins reveals they came against teams that last year went a combined 22-60 overall. Of Ephrata’s first six opponents this spring, the only one with a plus-.500 record last year, Elizabethtown, handed the Mounts a 16-6 loss last week.

As a result, Wednesday afternoon’s road trip to an improving Cocalico bunch was a chance for the Mounts to prove just what kind of team they are going to be this season.

Early on, it appeared Ephrata would be competitive when sophomore Aubrey Zimmerman put one in the back of the net to even the score less than seven minutes in. The hope was short-lived, though, as Cocalico fired back with eight straight goals and eventually earned a 22-6 Lancaster-Lebanon League win.

“We have several players who have never played before starting,” Schneider said after the game. “So it’s gonna be hard for us to keep up with a team who doesn’t have that situation.”

Still, Schneider didn’t expect things to get as lopsided as they did Wednesday for the Mounts (5-2 overall, 2-2 league).

“Could the game have been a lot closer today? It should have been on our end,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Eagles (3-5, 2-3) are hoping for a turnaround of sorts after coming out of the gate slow this spring — despite returning all but two starters from last year’s 13-win squad that reached the L-L League title game and District Three tournament. After beginning this season 1-4, Cocalico has won two of its last three games, with the middle of those three being an overtime loss to Berks Catholic.

“We didn’t get a lot of practice time outside because we’ve been stuck in the gym,” senior Courtney Forry said of Cocalico’s early struggles. “We didn’t have a lot of field time so our offense wasn’t connecting at the beginning. And our defense wasn’t working together. Pretty much everything because we got stuck inside.”

Cocalico coach Mary Beth Cardin said her team only had its first full practice outdoors on its grass field Tuesday.

“I was expecting more of this the whole time,” Cardin said of Wednesday’s performance. “I think we’re kind of getting into a groove.”

Forry, a senior and NCAA Division II University of Bridgeport (Conn.) commit, and Brooke Fritz, also a senior and a NCAA D-II East Stroudsburg commit, each scored six goals and tallied a pair of assists to lead the Eagles’ attack. Teammates Alyiha Price, Alicia Burkholder and Casey Sawyer each had two goals. Starting goalie Lauren Marte made three saves and backup keeper Lindsey Caiazzo had one stop.

Aubrey Zimmerman paced the Mounts’ offense with three scores, while goalie Katie Hammaker collected 12 saves. Despite Wednesday’s outcome, Schneider feels the program is on the right track, especially considering Ephrata will return all but three players to next year’s squad.

“Hopefully, we’ll see. Our middle school program is not what it should be,” Schneider said. “Lacrosse has come slowly to Ephrata, but we’re getting better. And I think the students at the school are starting to realize that we’re not the team anymore that never wins. The last three years we were winning some. We’re gonna need numbers in order to improve.”