Heading to Hershey Mounts advance to first District final with 13-6 triumph over Black Knights
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
The 2012 boys lacrosse team will go down as a season of firsts, no matter what happens the rest of the way.
The Mounts recently won their first-ever Lancaster-Lebanon League crown, and they did so by beating Manheim Township for the first time in school history.
Thursday night, they’ll go for another first when they square off against Carlisle (7 p.m.) at Hersheypark Stadium to try to win their first-ever District Three crown.
Tuesday night at Lower Dauphin, the Mounts punched their ticket to the title game with a convincing 13-6 triumph over fellow L-L League foe Hempfield.
Joey Sellers led the way offensively for the Mounts, scoring six of the 13 Ephrata goals in the contest. Evan Hornberger added three goals and a pair of assists while Tucker Keefer and Mason Quickel each found the net twice in the victory.
Defensively, the Mounts (21-2) shutdown the Black Knights for the most part, allowing just two first half goals to take command. The Mounts, who held a slight 29-26 advantage in shots, got seven big saves from goalie Brian Neff, who also keyed his team’s effective transition game.
"I’m just excited," Ephrata Coach Kevin Pletz said following the monumental victory. "I’m proud of these guys. They came out strong today. They wanted to make this District final and make an impression, and I think they did a good job today with that."
"It’s an honor (to advance)," he continued. "It’s a great opportunity. What else would you want to be playing for right now than a District final, especially in District Three? We are excited. I think we are going to be ready. This is our first opportunity, our first time playing in the District finals and hopefully we’ll be able to bring home a title.
In the nightcap Tuesday at LD, Carlisle stunned Manheim Township, 13-9, to set up a somewhat surprising final by two upstart programs. Thursday’s final will mark the second time the L-L champion Mounts met Carlisle (15-4) this season. Back on May 2, the Mounts traveled to Carlisle where they came away with a hard-fought 6-4 victory.
Now, with a win Thursday the Mounts can join the 1990-91 Ephrata wrestling team and become just the second boys’ squad in school history to win a District team title.
Pretty neat stuff.
"This means everything to us," Sellers said after the win. "We are doing it for all of the smaller teams out there that never had the chance to reach this point. To win it would be amazing feeling for this team and (former Coach Mike Ream, who passed away from a heart attack in 2010) and his family."
The Mounts broke on top 2-0 after one quarter of play as Tucker Keefer scored at the 9:22 mark on an unassisted goal. Keefer then fed Sellers for his first score to make it 2-0 two minutes later.
"We had to come out a lot stronger and once we had a lead we couldn’t let them back in it," Sellers said. "Last game we almost let them back in the game. We had to come out twice as hard and keep the intensity up."
They did just that as Quickel found the net early in the second to make it 3-0. Then, after CJ Bosch finally got the Black Knights (16-6) on the board with 7:37 to play, the Mounts responded with three straight tallies to up their lead to 6-1.
Hornberger scored two during that stretch with Sellers getting the fourth off a nice feed from behind the net from Quickel.
Hempfield’s Matt Senft stopped the bleeding momentarily with 2:16 to play when he scored. But the Mounts answered right back with Sellers scoring off a feed from Dakota Keefer to make it 7-2 at the half.
The Black Knights did score right out of the chute to start the second half on a goal by Zach Ward. And they controlled play for the first half of the period, taking advantage of a few man down situations by Ephrata. Nick Valentino then cut it to 7-4 with a goal with 3:14 to play, and it looked as if Hempfield could rally.
However, Tyler Sensenig got a huge face-off win following the Valentino tally, and it led to a Hornberger goal off an assist from Sellers. Tucker Keefer then ripped a shot with 1:08 to play to make it 9-4 before Quickel found Sellers in the slot with two seconds to play in the third to all but squash Hempfield’s hopes.
"They (Hempfield) had a couple times where they got two goals in-a-row to get a little momentum but we kept our composure. That’s a big thing we preach…If they get a couple goals on us , no big deal. Settle it down and work out of it. And that’s what we did today."
Senior defender Alex Pstrak agreed.
"Coming into the beginning of the second half, they cut it to 7-4 and I kind of thought they were making a run there," he said. "But we shut them down and started going the other way. Our transition game was very good today. (Neff) was saving everything and he was dishing it up to Tucker to move up the field."
Sellers scored a pair of goals in the fourth period and Quickel added his final tally of the night. Hempfield answered with goals by Andrew Meier and Valentino, but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Mounts are now just one win away from making history.
"I’m surprised, actually," Sellers said, summing up what this all means. "I mean we knew we had a lot of talent and we knew we could make it this far. Now that it’s finally here, and to play at Hersheypark Stadium is an even more awesome feeling because it’s the biggest stage around here. Hopefully, we can win."
Ephrata advanced to Tuesday’s semifinals following an 8-6 victory over Cumberland Valley in last Thursday’s quarterfinal round played at Penn Manor.
With the score tied 1-1 after the first quarter, Ephrata outscored the Eagles, 4-0 in the second quarter to take command. CV did cut the deficit to 6-4 after the third but the Mounts held on down the stretch to clinch the victory and a berth in the State Tournament.
Hornberger scored three goals while Sellers and Justin Hoover each added a pair of tallies to lead the Ephrata attack. Tucker Keefer also found the net for the Mounts with a goal and an assist while Dakota Keefer added a pair of helpers in the win.
Neff made 10 saves on the day as each team registered 16 shots. More MOUNTS, page B-4