Warwick holds off Mounts’ comeback to win Ream Cup

By on April 24, 2019
Ephrata’s Taj London (9) fights off a check from Warwick’s Justin Gerhart during Saturday’s Ream Cup game at Mountaineer Field. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Ephrata’s Taj London (9) fights off a check from Warwick’s Justin Gerhart during Saturday’s Ream Cup game at Mountaineer Field. Photo by Missi Mortimer

 

Chris Schaffer was a senior at Warwick in 2010 when the Ream Cup was introduced.

And even now, as a first-year coach for the Warrior boys lacrosse team, the rivalry with Ephrata still ranks among his favorite.

“It means a lot,” Schaffer said. “We want to keep (the Ream Cup) at Warwick as long as possible.”

Mounts’ boss Mike O’Donnell certainly left no doubt about the gravity of this game for his team. The trophy is presented to the winner in memory of Mike Ream, who started lacrosse at Ephrata.

“It’s the biggest game of the year for us because of the Ream Cup,” O’Donnell remarked. “We really get up for this game.”

Fittingly, the outcome in Saturday’s clash was still hanging in the balance going to the fourth quarter, after Ephrata rallied from an early 5-0 deficit and clawed back to within 9-8.

Eventually, though, junior Conor Adams scored three of his game-high five goals in the final stanza and the Warriors pulled out a 14-8 non-league victory at Ephrata. It was the fifth year in a row that Warwick won the Ream Cup, giving them a 6-4 series advantage in the battle for the coveted prize.

“It feels great,” Adams commented.

“It’s just awesome to have it back,” Schaffer said.

Not much separates the two teams in the current District Three Triple-A power ratings, with Warwick (5-2 Section One, 9-3 overall) currently ranked 6th and Ephrata (8-1 Section Two, 11-4 overall) holding the No. 11 spot. The top 12 teams advance.

So in addition to battling for the Ream Cup, there was also plenty at stake in the District playoff hunt.

But it was the Warriors — in no small part due to senior Austin Barto’s expertise at the face-off X — who took early command.

“We have to give a lot of credit to their face-off guy Barto,” O’Donnell said. “When you have the ball for most of the game, you’re obviously going to have an advantage, and they took advantage of their possessions.”

First-quarter goals by Adams, Hilton Michael, Thatcher Miller and Cayden Rihn put the Warriors up 4-0 after one, and when Carter Davis fired home a shot from the left elbow with just 1:10 elapsed in the second, the Warriors led 5-0.

“It was a great job starting off,” Schaffer said. “Austin Barto did a great job winning at the face-off X. I’m not sure what his percentage was, but I know he was 80 percent or more.”

Meanwhile, Warwick keeper Alex Epple, who finished the game with nine stops, kept the Mounts off the scoreboard through the opening 15-plus minutes. But then Ephrata finally connected when Kyle Raudenbush and Caden Keefer scored 27 seconds apart, cutting its deficit to 5-2. It was the first of Keefer’s two goals in the game.

Two minutes later, following an Ephrata turnover, Warwick’s Justin Gerhart took off on a fastbreak. His shot bounced in front of Mounts’ keeper Ethan Moyer and found the top of the net, making it 6-2.

Ephrata, though, made things interesting. Bryson Rhee scored the first of his three goals, and then Cody Mountz finished on a scoring opportunity, making it 6-4 with 4:01 left prior to the break.

The final two tallies of the half went to Warwick, courtesy of Davis and Barto, just :07 apart, and Epple stopped Raudenbush in the final 30 seconds, securing an 8-4 Warwick lead at the intermission.

For the game, the Warriors had a slim 35-34 edge in shots.

“We knew this was going to be a big game prior to the season, especially looking at the District rankings coming into this,” Schaffer said. “We prepped (Friday) trying to go over a couple things and we knew it was going to be a big game for us, so it was awesome to have the energy coming off the bus and being ready to play.”

Ephrata certainly came out in the third ready to play, and Moyer made big stops against Gerhart, Davis and Rihn in the opening three minutes to keep the Mounts within striking distance. For the game, Moyer finished with 11 saves.

“We play a zone defense for most of the game,” O’Donnell said, “and you can’t play a zone defense if you don’t have a lot of faith in your goalie. So us staying in that zone shows the amount of faith we have in Ethan. He made some big stops in the third and he was a major part of why we were able to get back into it.”

Rhee scored unassisted at the 8:31 mark, then Brock Boyer connected less than two minutes later. Epple made stops against Boyer and Raudenbush, but Keefer’s goal with 3:46 left in the third quarter brought the Mounts within one, 8-7.

“We stressed that it’s a game of runs,” Schaffer said, “that one team is going to go up by a couple, then the other team is going to go up by a couple, but we knew we just needed to regroup and keep going back to our stuff.”

That worked when Adams scored, on an assist from Michael, on the fastbreak with 1:53 on the clock, but Rhee’s third goal of the game with :35.7 remaining in the quarter cut the deficit to 9-8.

“We felt good about the comeback that we mounted,” O’Donnell said. “It’s tough to dig yourself out of a hole, and unfortunately, we have a tendency to kinda put ourselves in a hole in these big games. But I was happy with the way our kids fought back and got it to 9-8. We had the ball on our stick with a chance to tie the game.”

The Warriors, however, fought back in the fourth.

Adams’ third goal — his third hat trick in four games — restored a two-goal lead for Warwick, making it 10-8 with 1:15 elapsed in the fourth.

“(Moyer) played a pretty good game,” Adams said. “I thought we kept shooting high, which was a mistake, and I told our teammates, ‘If we shoot high one more time, it’s not good idea because he was saving all those.’ So I said shoot low and we came out hot.”

It remained a two-goal game until Gerhart scored with the Warriors in a man-up opportunity, from Josh Swift, with 6:50 left, and then Adams notched his fourth goal of the game at the 5:30 mark in transition, stretching the lead to 12-8.

“When we set up and settled our offense, (Ephrata) had a good pole (Tucker Parmer) on me,” Adams said, “so I liked it better in transition. With defenses unsettled, you can move the ball around fast and get shots.”

Davis’ goal just 18 seconds later made it 13-8 and Adams final tally, curling in front of the net before firing the ball home, sealed it with 1:28 remaining.

“We tell the kids this is the biggest game of the year,” O’Donnell said, “and we’ll just get back to work and try to bring that Ream Cup back to Ephrata next season.”

“It’s always a good rivalry,” Schaffer said. “They’re in our back-yard, they come to us, and we play each other all the time. In football, it’s a big rivalry as well for the George Male Trophy. With both being really good teams, where we’re at in Districts right now, we just knew it was going to be a fight on both sides of the field.”

Speaking of good rivalries, Ephrata hosted Cocalico Monday night at Mountaineer Field where the Mounts opened up a 10-3 half-time lead and cruised the rest of the way for an eventual 18-9 victory.

Raudenbush led the Ephrata offense with six goals while Rhee added five goals and an assist. Other Ephrata goalscorers included: Keefer (2); Boyer (2); Mortimer (1); Parmer (1) and Taj London (1).

Noah Palm led the Eagles (1-6, 1-12) with four goals while Brayden Johnson chipped in with three tallies. Sam Stewart and Evan Lippold also registered goals for Cocalico.

Ephrata out-shot the Eagles 49-39 as Moyer made 12 saves in the win. Ben Musselman collected 15 saves for the Eagles in net.

In addition to Monday, the Eagles also were in action last Thursday at Lampeter-Strasburg where they hung tough for three quarters before the Pioneers closed the game on a 9-2 run to earn a 20-7 victory.

Johnson scored five goals and added an assist while Stewart and Casey Bernhard also scored single goals for Cocalico in the loss.

Musselman saved 12 in net for the Eagles.

 

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