First place on the line tonight as Eagles, Mounts collide
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
It’s been four years since the Cocalico boys have beaten Ephrata in soccer.
But an Eagle win over the Mounts Wednesday night (5:30 p.m.) at Mountaineer Field not only would be monumental from that standpoint, but also would be significant as far as the Section Two standings are concerned.
With both teams coming in tied for first place at 4-1, a win in this game could be the turning point for both squads in this long season.
"It’s definitely big," Cocalico Coach Bob Dungan said of the matchup Tuesday afternoon. "You want to be on top. You don’t want to give away a game. You are not going to win or lose the section Wednesday. Section Two is too good for that to happen. Day in and day out there are four or five good teams in this section that are going to battle. You have to come to play every game. You are not going to lose or win the section with this game, but it would definitely help to win this game."
"It’s for first place, and both teams know each other very well," Ephrata Coach Rob Deininger said of the match-up. "We both know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The players all know one another from either playing with or against each other for a long time now. It’s turned into a pretty good rivalry the last few years. They have a group of talented players and we do also so it should be an exciting game."
After suffering its first loss of the season in a 1-0 decision to L-S last week, Cocalico responded with a pair of lopsided victories this past week to improve to 4-1 in section play.
Last Thursday at home, the Eagles scored four first-half goals to key a 6-0 shutout victory over visiting E-town.
Wyatt Dungan scored a pair of goals while Jake Grasser, Zach Weinhold, Chris Ward and Dylan Hrubochak also found the back of the net for the winners. Dungan added a pair of assists in the win as Cocalico outshot the Bears, 14-6 and held a 5-3 advantage in corners. Wes Rathman, subbing for injured goalie Lucas DiCiano, made six saves to record a shutout win.
Cocalico followed up that win with a convincing 4-0 shutout over visiting Garden Spot Monday afternoon in Denver. Dungan, Weinhold and Hrubochak all scored big goals for the Eagles while Rathman posted another shutout with five key saves.
According to Coach Dungan, the Eagles have responded quite well after suffering three key injuries prior to the L-S loss.
" I took the responsibility for the loss to L-S," the coach said. "We tweaked some things and I put Wyatt back at center-back to help the adjustment with the new keeper, and basically what it did was not give us any offense. We just decided that the onus has to be on the kids. They just have to pony up now and play how they have been trained and go normal. We are not a good team if Wyatt is not up there (offensively) to give us some punch for scoring.
"It’s been working out for us. We’ve been scoring some goals and getting a lot of opportunities, and we’ve been cashing in. So far so good."
Ephrata has also responded well after suffering its first section loss to Manheim Central (2-1 in overtime) last Tuesday. Monday afternoon, the Mounts walloped Solanco in Quarryville by a 9-0 decision.
Kyle Phillips and Trevor Boyer each scored a pair of goals to lead the assault. Nate Eberly, Gabo Murcia, Carl Rowits, Francisco Garday and Jean Astudillo added tallies as the Mounts outshot the Mules, 15-4.
Kole DeHaven stopped all four shots for the shutout in goal.
Last Thursday at L-S, the Mounts knocked off the Pioneers, 4-3, as Eberly and Phillips scored a minute apart in the second half to give the Mounts their winning margin.
Eberly scored two goals in the game while Rowitz had the other tally for the Mounts as they head into Wednesday’s match on a bit of a roll.
"We’ve been scoring a lot lately," Deininger said. "It’s just a matter of executing and working hard at what we do well."
According to Coach Dungan, Ephrata’s speed concerns him most heading into Wednesday.
"Ephrata is going to be the nest team we’ve faced all year," he said. "They are probably the fastest team I’ve come across. I’ve scouted them three times now, and every time I watch them play it looks like they are faster. Playing on that turf definitely helps with the speed of the game, but they have some crisp passing…They’ve got guys that play year round and know exactly what to do with the ball. Their game management is incredible, defense is excellent, they win head balls…That sweeper back there (Alex Smith) looks like he’d head a piano, and Kole in goal is tough to beat… They really do seem to have all of the parts."
Deininger said Cocalico transition game is a concern for the Mounts.
" They are very technical," he said of the Eagles. "They like to get the ball down and then switch it very quickly to try to get you off balance. They attack and counter-attack quickly. They try to go through the middle with (Alec) Sensenig and then he’ll distribute it very quickly to either side to try to throw us off guard. And Wyatt, up top, can put the ball on net very fast. We just have to watch how they distribute the ball, and make sure that we stay balanced as far as their attacking. And then we just have to go at them with our speed."
With his team missing three starters from the beginning of the season due to injury, Coach Dungan his team will need to be on the attack for all 80 minutes.
"Wes has done very well filling in in goal," he said. He hasn’t made any mistakes, but has he been tested the way he’s going to be against Ephrata? Probably not, so we have to outscore them.
"That’s our gameplan. We will not be able to out run them because our speed isn’t that great. We just have to win the ball in the air. We have to step up and take away space and not let them have a lot of space in front of us. We need to negate their speed whenever we can and look to transition. If we can transition fast and try to get past their midfield in a quick transition I think it will be good for us. We will fill the box with players. We are definitely going to take risks."
For Ephrata to win, the Mounts must use their speed to their advantage Deininger said.
"Cocalico is very skillful and can knock the ball around," he said. "And we are also skillful and can pass, and we have some speed that can put some pressure on them. If we can put the ball in the net we’ll have a very good opportunity on our home field to do something.’
"I’m sure Cocalico is going to come very, very hungry," he continued. "That’s good. It’s what you want. It will be a great high school atmosphere, and should be a great game. We can stand on our field and almost see their high school, so it should be fun. Field hockey has the rivalry now between the two of them. It’s taken us a while for soccer but it looks like that’s here now. Hopefully, the contest will be what it’s built up to be."
Wednesday’s game will be the first of a boys/girls doubleheader at Mountaineer Field. The boys will take the pitch at 5:30 p.m., followed by the girls at 7:15 p.m. More BOYS SOCCER, page B-3