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Hempfield, Barr eliminate Ephrata Lady Mounts pepper cage to no avail in 2-0 loss to Knights
TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com
, Staff Writer
Ephrata threw everything but the kitchen sink at Hempfield keeper Hollyn Barr Tuesday night at Penn Manor in the District Three consolation semifinals. And to her credit, the Hempfield sophomore was equal to the task.
Barr faced constant Ephrata pressure throughout as the Lady Mounts created 13 corners and fired 14 shots on the cage. And Barr saved them all.
At the other end of the field, the Black Knights made the most of their opportunities (eight shots and seven corners), scoring one goal in each half to clinch a 2-0 shutout win. With the victory, Hempfield (14-6) advances to play Twin Valley, a 2-0 winner over Manheim Central, Saturday with a fifth place and the final State berth on the line.
Ephrata, which deserved better than its fate Tuesday, was eliminated and closes out the year at 14-8-1.
"We just couldn’t finish," Ephrata Coach Rhoda Mountz said following the loss. "We had lots of opportunities, but I’m very proud of the way they played. They fought hard to the very end."
Ephrata, which dropped a 4-1 decision to Hempfield two weeks ago in the L-L League playoffs, came out defensive minded in this one. The Lady Mounts made a switch to a 4-4-2 alignment with an emphasis of getting back defensively.
"We wanted to really be strong (defensively) and just get our feet under us," Mountz said. "We wanted to shutdown their speed in the beginning until we got a feel of things. And I think it did help us because they came at us with so much speed the last time and really stretched us out. We didn’t want that to happen again."
Ephrata withstood an early flurry by Hempfield Tuesday, and began to gain momentum about midway through the first period. Ephrata had several good chances, including a shot by Brooke Overly that went just wide with 9:15 remaining. But Hempfield’s Taylor Nolan picked up the loose ball following the Overly miss and carried it end to end before throwing it to the right post where teammate Kelsey Munster was stationed. With her back to the cage, Munster gather the Nolan feed, turned and fired past Ephrata keeper Katie Hammaker and inside the right post to give her team the 1-0 lead.
But the Lady mounts were undeterred.
Ephrata had three first-half shots and five corners and all came after the Hempfield goal. But each time, they were denied by Barr and the Black Knights.
"If we just could have finished on one of those shots in the first half I think that would have got ’em going," Mountz said of her team.
Overly had a good scoring chance early in the second half when she carried into the circle and blasted a shot that Barr needed to make a good toe save to keep it out of the cage.
The Black Knights then had its most sustained attack of the second half. Hempfield forced five straight corners, and on the fifth, connected on the second goal of the game. The ball was inserted back to Noel Lorson, who ripped a shot that was deflected by Mackenzie Hukill past Hammaker (6 saves) for the insurance tally with 11 minutes to go.
Still, Ephrata was fazed, and generated seven corners and a ton of chances over the final 8:30, but to no avail as Hempfield held on and advanced.
"It has been a great year," Mountz said when asked to reflect. "They reached a lot of milestones. We finally beat Cocalico, two games, and that hasn’t been done for a while. They won the section title, and that hasn’t been done. They can feel good about themselves. They played well and did Ephrata proud."
Saturday afternoon in the District Quarterfinals at Lower Dauphin Middle School, Ephrata had its dreams of a District title curtailed by Cumberland Valley in a 3-0 decision.
The Eagles scored twice in the first half, and added a second-half tally to salt this one away and clinch a spot in Tuesday’s semifinals opposite Lower Dauphin.
Cumberland Valley brought a physical brand of play, and it seemed to have a great affect on Ephrata’s ability to work its offensive attack. As a result, the Eagles out-shot Ephrata, 21-4, and held a 16-6 advantage in corners.
Mountz said many fouls were let go by the referees, and as a result, her team struggled with its normal short passing game.
"(Cumberland Valley) is a power and a push team, and the style of officiating benefited them," she said. "That was the reason we couldn’t play our game. The girls got frustrated, along with me. We could just never get the momentum going."
"I knew we had to be stronger physically," she continued. "I knew what we were going to face. I didn’t anticipate that (loose) style of officiating, and there is nothing you can do about that. That is an uncontrollable factor. I preach to my girls…you have to adjust. We couldn’t generate much offense and couldn’t maintain the ball."
Cumberland Valley carried the play in the first half, generating six corners and 14 shots. However, Hammaker (19 saves) stood strong in goal.
Finally, with 13:54 gone, CV’s Emma Way, who is headed to Michigan, fed a ball to the middle where Madi Sauve chipped it past Hammaker and into the right corner of the cage.
CV’s hit-and-run approach definitely was effective, hemming in Ephrata at its own end for most of the period. And with 8:34 to play in the half, Way entered the circle from the left side and fired, which Hammaker kicked away. But the ball went right to the stick of Sara Rulapaugh, who one-timed it into the right corner for the 2-0 lead.
While Ephrata played better in the second half, generating all four of its shots in the final 30 minutes, the Lady Mounts couldn’t draw any closer. Perhaps Ephrata’s best chance to score came at the 15:09 mark off a corner. Nicole Wilkerson received the insert and shot from the top of the circle. CV goalie Kelly Weaver made the initial save, and Meredith Michel’s follow-up shot also was gobbled up by the Eagles’ netminder, who had four saves in the contest.
CV then iced the game with 5:24 to play after the Eagles were awarded a penalty stroke on a shot that was ruled to hit an Ephrata player in the crease. Carly Kissinger’s shot beat Hammaker again to the right corner of the cage for the third Eagle goal.
More LADY MOUNTS, page B-3