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Cocalico holds off late Ephrata charge
By: KAITLAN MITCHELL Review Correspondent, Staff Writer
Under the evening September lights, a dense crowd surrounded the field in anticipation of the backyard brawl last Thursday night.
As the names of the athletes bellowed over the PA sound system, Cocalico head field hockey coach Krista Page stole a few instrumental seconds with Carrie Sensenig before Sensenig took her place on the turf.
"She told me to give her 10 shots," junior forward Sensenig said. "That’s all she said, and I used those words as motivation throughout the game."
Sensenig and Cocalico met that demand with 13 shots on goal to Ephrata’s 11 for a 4-3 victory for the Lady Eagles in the Section Two field hockey opener for both schools.
Bantering ball control persisted until the 17:47 mark when Sensenig lit up the scoreboard for Cocalico with a direct shot. Sensenig continued to keep pace with Page’s request when she gave a solid stream-line pass to junior midfielder Emily Johnson to tip it behind Ephrata’s keeper Katie Hammaker to make it 2-0. Hammaker had nine saves for the night.
Ephrata senior forward Moriah Pfautz capitalized for the Lady Mounts with 4:56 remaining in the first half, creating a one-goal deficit as the teams broke for half time.
"During half-time we talked about some crucial things to correct on the field in the second half," Ephrata head coach Rhoda Mountz said. "We needed our forwards to play more defense when Cocalico had possession of the ball. "
Despite Ephrata’s half-time talk and the five-minute benching of Cocalico’s junior midfielder Marissa Gingrich after her yellow card, the flow of energy during the first minutes of the second half still remained in Cocalico’s favor.
Sensenig connected a pass to junior forward Cortney Gensemer for a goal with 27:51 on the clock for a score of 3-1.
Proving resilient, Ephrata’s junior forward Kirsten Ueberroth retaliated by giving the Lady Mounts their first goal of the second half. The game’s momentum steadily transferred as Pfautz seized her second goal of the game to tie the score at 3-3.
"This team doesn’t ever give up," Mountz says. "I wasn’t worried. I had the confidence we could bring it back in the second half. "
The rivals continued to show no signs of physical fatigue as the minutes dwindled and the pressure to score intensified. Both Gensemer and the Ephrata junior defender Emma Frees were shown yellow cards for rough play.
"This game is such a head case for both teams," Mountz says. "They’re friends, a lot of them. They’re neighbors. We live in each other’s backyard. This game is always the game."
With 7:44 remaining on the clock, Cocalico’s forward Carissa Witmer found fellow senior Janelle High for what would be the final goal in the 4-3 score.
The intensity of the game did not falter until time ran out, however. In a firework-finale finish, Ephrata ended the last seconds of the game by earning a corner and Cocalico freshmen goalie Emily Stauffer was hit with a yellow card. Stauffer had eight saves for game. Cocalico senior defender Julia Stauffer played a pivotal role in orchestrating the backfield through the defining last portion of the match.
"The last few minutes required even more composure in the backfield," Julia Stauffer said. "We didn’t have time to be frantic. We needed to remain focused and we did."
From the four cards and dynamic goals, to the electricity generated from the crowd, there was not a lull in the game’s progression. While Cocalico came through victorious on their first match up, the next time these two back-yard rivals encounter will prove to have just as much intensity and importance.
That match will take place Sept. 25 in Denver.
"This game, both times, could determine the outcome of the section," Page says. "I think we’re the two strongest teams in our section. It puts more pressure on the second time around."
Cocalico got more magic from High’s stick Monday afternoon on the road at Garden Spot as the Lady Eagles ran their record to 2-0 in section play with an exciting 4-3 overtime victory against Garden Spot.
After the Spartans tied it in the final minute of regulation, High scored her second goal of the game 11:50 into the OT for the game winner.
Johnson and Witmer also scored for the Lady Eagles, who were out-shot, 10-7 and our-cornered, 18-10. Kayla Mellinger played in goal for the Lady Eagles and stopped seven shots.
Cocalico did suffered its first loss of the season Friday afternoon in a non-league contest at Downingtown West.
With the scored tied 1-1 at the half, DW outscored Cocalico, 2-1 over the final 30 minutes to steal the win.
Johnson and Sensenig scored for Cocalico.
The Lady Eagles are 3-1 overall.
Ephrata got back to its winning ways Monday afternoon in Quarryville with a big second half surge.
Trailing 2-1 early in the second half, Ephrata responded with three-unanswered goals to capture a 4-2 victory. Brooke Overly got the equalizer at the 6:36 mark before Mackenzie Ruth tallied what turned out to be the game winner seven minutes later.
Pfautz then added her second score of the contest with about six minutes to go for an insurance tally. Hannah Reimel added a pair of assists for Ephrata while Hammaker saved 15 in goal.
Ephrata improved to 3-1 overall, 1-1 in section play. More FIELD HOCKEY, page B-3