Mounts widen gap with 2-0 win over Barons
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Ephrata’s formula was pretty simply Monday night at home vs. Manheim Central.
The Mounts got an early lead, expanded on it before half, and then locked down the Barons with a stifling defense the rest of the way.
It all added up to a big 2-0 victory for the Mounts, giving them the inside track to a possible title with two weeks to go. Ephrata (9-1) now is two games up on both Cocalico (7-3) and the Barons (7-3) with just four section matches remaining.
"We’ve been winning but not in the greatest method…We just needed to get our momentum back," Ephrata Coach Rob Deininger said following the win. "Now we are up by two (games) but we have a couple tough ones remaining. I think we got our confidence back tonight and hopefully we can continue on Wednesday at L-S."
Ephrata’s win avenged its only section loss of the season which came Sept. 11 in a 2-1 overtime game in Manheim.
The difference this time around?
"They finished their chances," Baron Coach Matt Schwartz said of the Mounts. "That was the biggest difference. We were fortunate last time. I thought they had chances last time but were just high and wide. Tonight, we weren’t as tight defensively as we were the last time to escape some of those chances."
Ephrata took advantage of one of those opportunities in the game’s 15th minute to notch what turned out to be the winning goal. Kyle Phillips carried deep into the right corner before threading a perfect cross to Matt Faller, who put it behind Baron keeper Austin Hatch for the 1-0 lead.
"Kyle is tenacious," Deininger said. "He’s very skilled and has worked hard for four years now. He just wants to be a goal scorer or be part of it. He’s very vital to what we do and he got down in the corner, got behind and crossed it. It was perfect timing for Matt, and he ran onto it and did what he’s suppose to do."
"That first one was a good goal, no doubt about it," he said. "That was well conceived and well done. We made it easier on them than what we should have… just a defensive lapse on our part."
It was Ephrata’s second goal which may have been the dagger for Schwartz and the Barons, however. With 27 minutes gone, Ephrata sent a ball into the Baron end that went off a Manheim player and was headed to the end line. Fearing a corner, Hatch (two saves) ventured out to avoid the corner by picking it up. Unfortunately for him, as his momentum was carrying him over the end line, he dropped it out in front to the feet of the Mounts’ Gabo Murcia. Murcia calmly aimed and fired it into the net and the Mounts now had some much needed insurance.
"We had been having some opportunities and we didn’t cash in," Deininger said. "That one was a mistake on their part. We were fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and jumped on it. It was a great shot from a difficult angle."
With a 2-0 lead, Ephrata clamped down on the Barons the rest of the way. While MC ventured into Ephrata territory a handful of times, they weren’t able to generate any quality scoring chances as Kole DeHaven made six saves for the shutout in goal.
"We kind of locked them down," Deininger said. "It wasn’t just our defense. We started all the way up top with our strikers and midfielders… Everybody had a defensive mind and did a great job for us."
Schwartz said his team, which like Ephrata had six shots, just couldn’t find a way to finish.
"They pressured us and we were just a half step behind in connecting on passes," he said. "It just prevented us from generating consistent offensive push. We had moments, just not consistent enough to force enough of their adjustments and sustain some pressure. We had a ton of balls served in the box, some great chances that we just didn’t get on the end of. You have to finish your chances. Tonight we didn’t finish ours, and they did. And the opposite was true last time."
With the Barons now sitting two games behind Ephrata, Schwartz said his team must focus on the task at hand each night and let the chips fall where they may at the end.
"We have to focus on ourselves," he s.aid. "We don’t have the head to head (advantage) with Ephrata now. It’s a matter of taking care of our own business, same thing as every other night. You come out and square up against your opponent, put your best effort forward and when the last game is played you see where the standings are and you go from there."
Last Thursday at Lebanon, Ephrata struggled to find the offense as Phillips scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over the Cedars.
The Mounts did outshoot Lebanon, 24-8 but had the lone goal to show for it. DeHaven made just one save in the one-goal victory.
As for Cocalico, the Eagles enjoyed a very good week, earning a pair of section wins to go along with their second victory over Manheim Township in two years in a non-league thriller.
Monday in Denver, Wyatt Dungan and Zach Weinhold each scored a pair of goals to pace the Eagles to a 5-0 victory over Solanco.
Collin Glassey added a goal and an assist for the Eagles, who also got helpers from Alec Sensenig, Devin Wiley, Nick Aldrich and Wes Rathman.
Lucas DiCiano made a pair of saves in the Eagle goal.
Last Thursday at L-S, Cocalico pulled out a 1-0 victory over the Pioneers as Dungan scored the game’s lone tally in the 29th minute off an assist from Sensenig.
DiCiano stopped three shots for the win in goal.
And the Eagles followed up that win Friday afternoon in their non-league match with Township.
This one went to double overtime where Sensenig broke a 1-1 tie to end the game in the 97th minute and give Cocalico a 2-1 victory.
Sensenig scored both goals for the Eagles as DiCiano saved three in getting the win in goal. Weinhold assisted on one of Sensenig’s scores. More GAP, page B-4