Ephrata bounces back strong to handle LCD/LC

By on April 18, 2018

Ephrata’s Tyler Walton looks for an open teammate to pass to downfield at Ephrata Middle School in Ephrata, PA on April 16, 2018.

After breezing through the first seven games of their schedule with perfect 7-0 record, the Ephrata boys lacrosse team hit a couple potholes this past week, losing first to Penn Manor and then in a non-league tilt Saturday against Palmyra.

The big question, especially after Saturday’s stunning 17-1 setback at the hands of Palmyra, was how would Ephrata bounce back?

Turns out, very well, judging from Monday’s 10-4 home victory over Lancaster Country Day/Lancaster Catholic.

Offensively, the Mounts got three goals each from Bryson Rhee, Noah Roark and Caden Keefer while at the defensive end, limited the Crusaders to just one goal in each quarter as they put the game away.

Ephrata Coach Mike O’Donnell said his team was at a crossroads following its first two losses of the season. Needless to say, he liked the way his team bounced back with a solid effort Monday.

“(Monday) was as close to a ‘must win’ as it gets, at this point in the season,” O’Donnell admitted. “Everyone in our program, coaches and players, was concerned about the way that we lost to Palmyra on Saturday. That loss put us at a crossroads with two options to choose from: either pack it in for the year and just be happy with the first seven wins, or to rekindle the passion and fight that we had shown in our first eight games, and continue to work towards our goal of making the playoffs. I’m really proud of how our kids responded to get a win against a tough, well coached, defensive-minded team like (LCD/LC).”

Monday, Ephrata goalie Ethan Moyer had a strong game in net, turning back 15 of the Crusaders’ 19 shots as the Mounts improved to 5-1 league (8-2 overall).

Back to last Thursday where the Comets led throughout but withstood a late Ephrata rally to hold on for a 13-10 victory.

The Comets (4-1, 6-2) were led by Aidan Mahoney, who scored six goals in the win.

Brock Boyer had three goals and an assist for the Mounts while Rhee had two goals and three helpers in the losing effort.

Ephrata followed up their first loss of the year by entertaining Palmyra Saturday. But this one was all Cougars from the start as they raced out to a 10-0 half-time lead and breezed the rest of the way.

Kyle Raudenbush scored the lone Ephrata goal, off an assist from Rhee. The Mounts were out-shot 43-8.

“(The loss to Penn Manor) was a really tough one for us,” O’Donnell said. “To fight back from five goals down in the fourth and get to within one goal of overtime was physically and mentally draining for our players. I think some of that disappointment and fatigue showed itself on Saturday at Palmyra. We have to remind ourselves as coaches that we have a lot of sophomores and freshmen in big roles on our team. Part of maturing as an athlete is learning how to handle both success and defeat, and our players will benefit from both the close loss against Penn Manor, and the lopsided defeat against Palmyra.”

Ephrata will face a huge challenge Wednesday night at home (7 p.m.) as the Mounts entertain Hempfield, which is unbeaten in L-L League play at 5-0.

O’Donnell said he expects “lots of offense.”

“Two of the top scoring teams in the L-L League meeting at Mountaineer Field should make for an exciting night,” he said. “We have a ton of respect for Hempfield. The pace and tempo at which they play on offense can simply overwhelm teams, so we have to both physically and mentally prepare our team for their style of lacrosse. Whichever team can give their offense more possessions by winning faceoffs and ground balls will certainly give themselves the best chance to win.”

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