Mounts give State champ a scare, but late goal lists Conestoga to 2-1 win

By on November 8, 2017
Ephrata’s Alex Auker (19) wins a headball from a Chambersburg player as teammates Tanner Pfeiffer (6) and AJ Morales (7) look on Saturday in the District Three third-place game held at Northeastern. Photo by Preston Whitcraft.

Ephrata’s Alex Auker (19) wins a headball from a Chambersburg player as teammates Tanner Pfeiffer (6) and AJ Morales (7) look on Saturday in the District Three third-place game held at Northeastern. Photo by Preston Whitcraft.

DOWNINGTON – Midway through the second half Tuesday night Rob Deininger walked the sideline with his hands clasped behind his back and a big, sheepish grin on his face.

His game plan was working. His team just scored the tying goal on a penalty kick to tie the game at 1-1 against the No.1 seed in Class 4A.

Now he was playing with house money.

For 80 minutes during a cold, rain-drenched evening at Downingtown West High School the Mountaineers— playing a defensive style that packed everyone near the goal— frustrated Conestoga on the pitch.

It took a perfectly placed shot — just under the cross bar from 34 yards out — by Stoga’s Rodrigo Martinez to give the undefeated and defending state champions a 2-1 victory.

Conestoga now advances to Saturday’s quarterfinals to face Parkland, a 3-1 winner over Kennett Tuesday.

AJ Morales was a one-year old the last time Ephrata made the state playoffs in boys’ soccer.

That was 16 years ago, the senior pointed after the PIAA first round match.

He believes he and his teammates left a good impression, playing with grit and heart.

The Mounts gave Conestoga, the No.1 ranked team in the state and third-ranked team in the nation all they could handle.

Deininger, Ephrata’s head coach, came up with a game plan. It was designed to slow Stoga down. To limit their explosive offense. He packed his troops back defensively, forming a human wall to prevent scoring opportunities.

“The boys played exactly how they were supposed to,” said Deinniger, who finished off his 21st year at the helm for the Mounts (18-6). “We had nine to 10 guys back. The game plan was to make the most of opportunities. We got that one and it took a really nice shot to beat us.

“I’m not disappointed at all. We played to the best of our ability. The season was fantastic. I couldn’t be happier. At halftime I said the plan is to get a foul and see if we can put one in the net. Andrey (Patrushev) got an opportunity and put it away.”

Trailing 1-0 at the 30:17 mark of the second half, Ephrata senior Aaron Cummings was knocked down in the box, setting up a penalty kick for Patrushev.

This was Ephrata chance to get back in the game. The crowd knew it, as did the players. Patrushev was nervous.

“I go bottom right every time. But I was scared because it was wet and I’m inconsistent when it’s wet. It’s slippery,” he said. “I went for my shot and the goalie got a finger on it but it got through.”

The shot rubbed inside the left post, clanging when it hit the back of the net. The crowd went crazy. Conestoga players dropped their heads. After all, this was Ephratra’s first possession in Stoga’s side of the field, outshooting the Mounts 19 to 4 prior to the tie.

“They seemed really disappointed and frustrated,” Patrushev said.

Ephrata, which packed it in again, playing strong defensively, getting in the way as Conestoga peppered shots on net.

Just about every touch for Conestoga had a purpose, turning the ball to lead a teammate. Conestoga (22-0-1), which rode into the game winning 25 straight games, dating back to last year, outshot the Mounts in the game 22-4 and had a 4-0 edge in corners.

Ephrata’s defense and big saves (five total) by keeper Cole Hummel kept the game tied. When the scoreboard got into single digits, someone at the scorer’s table said (the Mounts) are playing for PKs. It was quickly pointed out that the Mounts were 1-0 on PKs so far in the game.

That all changed with 8:12 remaining in the game after Martinez’s goal, a shot from the upper 90 that looked like it would hit the cross bar and not go in the net.

Conestoga coach David Zimmerman was not surprised by Ephrata’s game plan, but was proud his team kept peppering shots on the Mounts.

“I knew it was coming,” he said. “Elizabethtown proved last year that playing defensively and countering is a good strategy. It keeps the game close. Give them (Ephrata) credit for playing defense as well as they did. It was very effective.”

He said he told his team to “stay patient. It is easy to get frustrated, but you need to keep your cool,” he said.

“That was a beautiful shot,” he said about the game winner. “It was impressive, actually. A one in hundred shot.”

He said the game plan was to get crosses and counters. The Mounts’ Hummel made big save after big save, including a diving stop to his left with 16:33 remaining in the game.

Conestoga’s Chris Donovan, arguably the team’s best player, scored Stoga’s first goal, taking a pass inside the box from 12 yards out, spinning and sending a laser past Hummel inside the left post.

Morales, a senior captain for Ephrata, said there was no reason to hang their heads after the loss. He said last year’s Mounts squad had more skill, but this year’s team had more heart, grit, winning six of seven overtime games, including beating Chambersburg Saturday in OT in the District Three third place game.

He said he embraced his team being counted out against Conestoga.

“Coming in we knew we were the underdog, the smallest school in the bracket, the last seed,” he said. “We were up for the challenge. After the tying goal, I was like, ‘Oh here we go.’ We just got to capitalize. Andre did what he did all year.

“Their (Conestoga players) jaws dropped. They came in cocky. I love it. It felt great. It was a nail-bitter. It was a beautiful shot that beat us. You can’t get mad about that. It happens. It’s soccer.”

The Mounts advanced to States following Saturday’s thrilling 2-1 overtime win over Chambersburg in the District Three third-place game played at Northeastern High School.

Trailing 1-0 late in regulation, Ephrata got the equalizer in the 77th minute on a goal by Tyler Shue that was set up by Ben Kamide. That set the stage for the overtime gamewinner, which was provided by Ellis Martin.

Two minutes into the extra session off a corner kick, Morales sent a high looping insert that found the head of Martin, who popped it over the out-stretched arms of Chambersburg goalie Andrew Armstrong for the winning tally as Ephrata advanced.

Chambersburg (13-4-4) took a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute on an unassisted goal by Conner Gniewek. Both teams were held off the scoreboard until late when Kamide set up Shue.

For the game, Ephrata out-shot the Trojans, 8-5 and out-cornered them by a 7-3 margin.

Armstrong collected six saves on the night while Hummel made four stops.

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