Strong out of the gates

By on March 27, 2019
Ephrata’s Bryson Rhee (20) fights off a pair of Governor Mifflin defenders in the offensive zone Saturday in the season opener at Mountaineer Field. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Ephrata’s Bryson Rhee (20) fights off a pair of Governor Mifflin defenders in the offensive zone Saturday in the season opener at Mountaineer Field. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Ephrata boys lax off to impressive 2-0 start

It’s always a plus to start a season off with a win. It’s even better, when it’s a dominant performance against a quality opponent.

That certainly was the case for the Ephrata boys lacrosse team, which came out in mid-season form and knocked off Berks County power governor Mifflin 13-5 Saturday in the season opener at Mountaineer Field.

Leading 7-4 at the half, the Mounts out-scored Mifflin 6-1 over the final 24 minutes to secure the impressive victory.

Senior Bryson Rhee led the way offensively, scoring four goals and adding three assists. Junior Caden Keefer and freshman Hunter Mortimer each added three goals as the Mounts out-shot the Mustangs, 31-22.

Defensively, goalie Ethan Moyer shutdown the Mifflin attack, allowing just the five goals while making 12 key saves for the victory.

“We’re happy to start the season off with a win against a team like Governor Mifflin, a program that regularly wins 11-plus games and qualifies for District playoffs,” Ephrata Coach Mike O’Donnell said. “The players knew that we would have to play at a consistently high level to come away with a win, and we were able to do that. Our hope is that we can continue to build upon this momentum, and string together a series of wins as we head into our league schedule.”

No stat was more important than face offs Saturday, and that has been an Achilles Heel for the Mounts in the past. But sophomore Brock Boyer stepped up in a big way, winning 14 of 19 re-starts to help the Mounts win the battle of possession.

“We controlled the game by winning face offs,” O’Donnell said. “Over the past two seasons, we have struggled mightily to win face offs, so to win 74 percent is something that we were thrilled with. We think that our offense creates a lot of problems for opposing defenses, so if we are able to continue to win face offs, and give our offense extra possessions, we will be a tough team to play against.”

Rhee, who is bound for the Naval Academy next Fall, was the facilitator for the Ephrata attack. When he wasn’t scoring himself, he was setting up for the likes of Keefer and Mortimer (also one assist) to have big afternoons as well.

“(Bryson) is a match up problem for most teams, so they have to focus multiple defenders on him in order to slow him down,” O’Donnell said. “He did a great job of taking what the defense gave him (Saturday), and not trying to force the issue on offense. He also chipped in by picking up a few ground balls on face offs and playing great defense as a midfielder. He has been a great ‘leader by example’ for our younger players.”

Boyer added a goal and three assists while Kyle Raudenbush contributed a pair of scores for the Mounts.

Early on, Ephrata jumped out to a 5-0 lead at the end of the first period before Mifflin closed the gap to 7-4 at the half. It could have been closer than that if not for Moyer coming up with a few huge saves to keep his team on the right side of the scoreboard.

“Early in the game, Mifflin had three scoring opportunities, but Ethan stood tall in the cage and made difficult saves in all three of those scenarios,” O’Donnell said. “Ethan was also instrumental in helping us clear the ball successfully throughout the game.”

Continued consistent scoring and solid defense helped Ephrata pull away for the big win in the second half.

In addition to Saturday’s big victory, the Mounts opened league play Tuesday with another dominant effort, this time a 17-2 triumph on the road at Conestoga Valley.

Ephrata struck early and often offensively, ballooning a 9-1 half-time lead to 15-2 before emptying the bench.

Keefer collected a game-high six goals to pace the Mounts (1-0 league, 2-0 overall). Rhee had another big night with four goals and three assists while Mortimer finished with three goals and an assist.

Raudenbush scored a pair while both Boyer and Blake Billingsley also got on the board in the easy win.

Moyer made seven saves while Zane Cammauf had two stops in the fourth quarter.

Up next, the Mounts host Garden Spot Thursday at 7 p.m. and will travel to Cedar Crest Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Also, the Mounts will travel to Cocalico Monday night to square off with their rivals at Talon Field, beginning at 7 p.m.

 

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