A Year in ‘The’ Review

By on June 1, 2011

The Cocalico girls lacrosse team enters State Tournament play today as the last remaining local squad to be in action for the 2010-11 high school sports year.

Can you believe it? Seems like last week that fall practices were just beginning and a new year was upon us. Now, when the Cocalico girls close out their state run, the 10-11 sports season will be officially in the books.

And what a year it was, particularly at Cocalico where two of its teams played for district titles and another was three minutes and some change from winning a State crown.

Ephrata had its share of highlights as well, with a monumental football win over its arch-rival and a touching moment to end what was a long boys basketball season.

I figured before we close the book on this season, it would be fun to look back at some of the highlights of the year.

Here are a few of the best…

Ephrata’s 21-20 win over Cocalico: Who knew that Ephrata’s biggest victory of the school year would come 10 days into the month of September? But that’s exactly what happened as the Mounts shocked Cocalico on that fateful night at War Memorial.

Ephrata built a 21-0 lead behind several big plays before the heavily-favored Eagles responded. Austin Hartman scored three touchdowns to cut the Cocalico deficit to one and the Eagles were marching for the winning score in the final seconds. With the ball at the 20-yard line, the Eagles set up for the potential game-winning field goal in the waning moments. However, the Mounts’ Andrew Burkholder and Scott Liebl saved the day, blocking Kyle Felpel’s kick to preserve the huge one-point victory.

It will go down as one of the most exciting moments in my 24 years here at the paper, and most certainly is the biggest win in Jim Vieland’s tenure.

Cocalico’s late-season push: The Cocalico football team struggled for most of the season and found itself at 3-5 and in serious danger of missing the playoffs. Furthermore, Hartman was lost for three crucial games in the middle of the season, and freshman QB Spencer Moser also went down. But the Eagles picked themselves up behind sophomore QB Brock Gosling, earned a miraculous win over CV in Week Nine and took off from there.

With Hartman back, the Eagles beat Solanco in the final week of the season to clinch a spot in the playoffs, then took out favorites West York, Susquehanna Township and Conrad Weiser in succession to earn their first District finals appearance under Coach Dave Gingrich.

Unfortunately, Cocalico ran into a Bishop McDevitt squad rich with D-One talent and their fairy tale season came to a close on the Hershey turf in a 29-14 loss.

Ephrata golf rules: The Lancaster-Lebanon League girls golf title came down to a pair of Ephrata girls as senior Lauren Smith edged out sophomore teammate Lacey Bensing for the crown. Smith, who will play at Kutztown next year, shot an 81 in the final at Overlook to beat Bensing (83) by two strokes.

A field hockey first: The Cocalico field hockey team opened the season 1-3, facing four of the top programs in powerful District Three. The question was, would this beefed up schedule pay dividends for the Lady Eagles down the road?

Short answer: You bet. Cocalico went on to record a perfect record in section play, winning the title for the third-straight year. But this team, which returned every starter from the year before, wanted more.

After hitting a bump in the road in a first-round loss to Lancaster Mennonite in the L-L Playoffs, Cocalico responded in District play. The Lady Eagles ripped Gettysburg in the first round, but had their hopes of a title dashed in the next round with a 1-0 overtime loss to eventual District champion Hershey.

But the Lady Eagles were able to clinch a second-straight State berth with tough wins over Central Dauphin and Wilson, and were only getting started.

They thumped North Allegheny in the first round of States, setting up a rematch with Hershey. This one also went to overtime but Jess Lawville’s end to end rush ended with a Cocalico goal and the Lady Eagles were off to the semifinals with an exhilarating 3-2 victory.

Only District One runner-up Mt. St. Joseph stood in Cocalico’s way of a berth in the State finals, and the Lady Eagles weren’t to be denied. Courtney Ueberroth and Liza Morgan both scored and the Lady Eagles held on late behind a 10-save performance by goalie Haley Mitchell as Cocalico advanced to the finals for the first time with a 2-0 victory.

Unfortunately, this story didn’t have a happy ending as Emmaus, the top ranked team in the nation, scored with 3:37 to play to break a 1-1 tie and give them a 2-1 win and the title.

What an amazing run it was for these girls, and one that will never be forgotten in Denver.

Ephrata swimmers win Section Title: The Ephrata girls swim team had never won a team title but that all changed in early February when the Lady Mounts knocked off Cocalico to capture their first-ever Section Two title.

Ephrata turned in a perfect 6-0 record section record to finish one win ahead of Lampeter-Strasburg (5-1).

Timmy gets to play: The Ephrata boys basketball season was as dismal as it gets as the Mounts produced just one victory for the entire year. Yet on one night, the Ephrata gym was the place to be as four-year team manager Tim Hubach, who has Down Syndrome, got to live his dream, thanks to then Ephrata Coach Patrick Cristino, who made good on a promise he made to Hubach a few years earlier.

Hubach entered the game in the final two minutes of the third period in the eventual 55-30 loss to Cocalico, after Brooks Carr "turned" his ankle. With both the Cocalico and Ephrata student sections standing and cheering him on, Hubach unfortunately came up short on both attempts. However, in the game’s final minute, the gym livened again as Hubach played the final 40 seconds.

Ephrata set up an inbounds play under the basket. Hubach got off three shots in the final 10 seconds but couldn’t get one to go. Still, the moment was a touching one for all in attendance, including this sports writer.

It was one of the greatest gestures I have ever witnessed. It was a moment I won’t forget.

Ephrata boys lax slays a giant: The Ephrata boys lacrosse program has been on the doorstep for the last few years, and the Mounts finally kicked it in earlier this month when they pulled off a major upset of Hempfield in the L-L Semifinals.

Head Coach Kevin Pletz called it, "The biggest win in program history," and it was as Ephrata beat Hempfield for the first time ever. The Mounts did it with patience, and a great night in goal by Brian Neff.

There were plenty tears of joy on the Ephrata sidelines following the win, and for good reason. Unfortunately, lightning didn’t strike twice as the Mounts fell to a super-talented Manheim Township team in the L-L League finals a few days later.

Cocalico girls reach new heights: The Cocalico girls lacrosse team also made a bit of program history, earning their first District Three title appearance and initial State berth. They face Wyoming Seminary tonight in a winnable game before they run into the powerful District One teams. Who knows when this story ends? But it’s been a great season for the Lady Eagles, and a great year for all of the local sports teams.

Enjoy the summer because August will be here before you know it. Todd Ruth

Ephrata Review

Sports Editor More RUTH, page B-2

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