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Blazers frustrate Mounts in defensive struggle
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Traditionally, giving Lancaster Mennonite a lead is a death sentence. If the Blazers get any type of lead on you, their defense will snuff the life out of you.
Unfortunately for Ephrata, the Mounts found themselves in that predicament Tuesday night in the L-L League Boys Soccer Quarterfinals at Pequea Valley.
And true to form, once they got the lead, the Blazers tightened up and put a clamp on Ephrata’s attack.
The Mounts (13-5-1) never really generated one solid scoring chance in 80 minutes of soccer. And in the end, that one goal was more than enough as the Blazers (12-7) advanced with the 1-0 victory.
"They just wouldn’t let us break through," Ephrata Coach Rob Deininger said following the loss. "They are a very defensive-oriented team and did a great job tonight.
"It definitely wasn’t our night, and we have a bunch of seniors who are a little upset right now," he continued. "They thought with winning the section we could keep going on but you have to come every night ready to rock, and Mennonite was a good side tonight."
While Section Three runner-up Mennonite moves on to face Hempfield in Thursday’s semifinals at Manheim Central, Section Two champion Ephrata will now await District Three play which begins next Tuesday night at a site and time to be determined. The Mounts are currently seeded eighth but figure to drop after Tuesday’s loss. The first-round pairings are expected to be announced some time on Thursday.
"We’ll be fine. We’ll be ready," Deininger said when asked if his team can put Tuesday’s loss behind them. "We just have to find a way to score some goals. Against Cocalico and Garden Spot we kind of slowed down, and tonight we definitely did."
After Ephrata’s Nate Eberly missed wide left in the first three minutes of the game, the Blazers countered and got what turned out to be the lone goal of the game just 1:30 later.
Caleb Gish passed to teammate CJ Sturges, who was stationed on the right wing. He sent a perfectly placed cross to the foot on Mitchell Rohrer, whose low one-timer beat Ephrata keeper Kole DeHaven (2 saves) to the short side.
"Their goal was very nice," Deininger said. "It was crossed, and the guy stayed home in his position and when it came he put it on net. They got that one five minutes in and we just could not generate enough offense to counter."
The rest of the game was largely spent between the two 18s as Mennonite continued to frustrate the Mounts on every run. Ephrata’s best, and perhaps only real opportunity to even it up came in the 21st minute when Nate Eberly hit Andy Moore in front of the LMH cage. Moore’s ensuing shot, however, was sent high over the crossbar.
From that point on, it was frustration at every turn for the Mounts, who had the lone two shots of the second half and the lone corner of the game.
"Every time you play Mennonite it’s always in the back of your mind that they are just so defensive-oriented," Deininger said. "It’s tough to create opportunities, but it’s our fault too. We are good enough, been around long enough, and we are champions…We just have to find a way to get it done."
As for Cocalico, the Eagles did not qualify for the L-L League Tournament but should qualify for District play. The Eagles are currently 12th, but may need to play in Saturday’s preliminary round if they fall to 13th by the time the final power ratings are released.
If Cocalico remains in the top 12, then the Eagles will open District play next Tuesday night. More STRUGGLE, page B2