Streaks hold off Mounts in District quarterfinals
The Ephrata boys needed some momentum.
And when senior Koty Keefer connected with 3:12 left in the third quarter, cutting Manheim Township’s lead to 7-4, the Mounts were hoping that would be the spark they needed.
Unfortunately, though, the Blue Streaks’ Willy Hendrick answered just 35 seconds later to take some wind out of Ephrata’s sails.
“It’s tough when you start getting within striking distance and they get a goal that quick on us,” Mounts’ coach Kevin Pletz acknowledged. “It doesn’t knock us down, but it kinda takes a little momentum from us as well.”
Township led by as many as three the rest of the way and clinched an 11-7 win over their L-L rivals in a District Three quarterfinal-round game at Penn Manor’s Comet Field in Millersville.
While the 3rd-seeded Streaks (19-1) advanced to Tuesday’s semi-finals to face Carlisle (16-3), a 15-7 winner over Governor Mifflin, 11th-seeded Ephrata went home with a 14-7 overall record.
The Mounts, who were led by Keefer’s team-high four goals, made improvements from a 15-5 loss to Township on April 25. But the Blue Streaks’ transition game proved to be a tough challenge.
“The game came down to if we could stop their fastbreak transition goals and I don’t know how many they had, but I think out of the 11, it was probably eight of them,” Pletz said. “We did a decent job at it, but when (our guys) started getting tired, Township started stepping up and really getting the transition goals and stuff. They’re a fast, fantastic team and we just had trouble keeping up with their speed.”
Hendrick finished with a game-high five tallies, including two in the first quarter when the Streaks grabbed a 3-0 lead. Keefer got Ephrata on the board with :10 left in the quarter, and then with a tally by Dustin Fisher sandwiched in between, Keefer’s goal with 2:47 left in the half cut the Mounts’ deficit to 4-3.
“You always know that they’re going to play tough, they’re going to play hard and they’re going to play for the entirety of the game,” Streaks’ coach Kyle Wimer said. “So you’ve just got to be focused and ready for that and, if you stay disciplined, you’ll be able to ride their punches and be able to get through the entirety of the game.”
Counter-punches from Ryan Miller and Hendrick in the final :47 of the half put the Streaks up 6-3 at the break, and then Kevin Curcio’s goal with 1:54 elapsed in the third made it a four-goal lead.
The Mounts scored two of the next three in the quarter, including one by Ryan Holochuk, and keeper Justin Mease made a save the buzzer, one of his 11 saves, to keep it a three-goal deficit, 8-5, heading to the final stanza.
“Mease played a fantastic game,” Pletz said. “He definitely kept us in the game, he was seeing the ball well. I was proud of his performance today.”
The Mounts, though, could get no closer in the fourth quarter, and when the Blue Streaks’ Chris Augeri connected with 4:36 remaining, Township had its biggest lead of the game, 11-6, and all but wrapped up the victory. For the game, Township outshot the Mounts 22-11 and Blue Streak keeper Alex Ready finished with four stops.
Keagan Remp also scored for Ephrata in the losing cause.
“I think we played them pretty tough,” Pletz remarked. “We threw some looks at them to kinda get them out of their game, but they (play) a fast-paced game and they do well in transitions and they got a lot of transition goals on us.”
Looking back, Pletz commended his team for a great season.
“We had some tough losses,” he said. “We had our ups and downs, but overall, I think we really had a nice season. Given the team we have, the talent we have, we deal with some depth issues and stuff like that and you could see it late in the season, they started to wear down, but overall I’m proud of the kids. They really put it all out on the field there.”
Bruce Morgan is the sports editor for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 721-4451.