Eagles upend Mounts in District semis

By on November 1, 2017
Ephrata’s AJ Morales (7) steps around Cumberland Valley defender Luke Truong. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Ephrata’s AJ Morales (7) steps around Cumberland Valley defender Luke Truong. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Mounts to play for third place, state berth Saturday

Cumberland Valley got out to a fast start Tuesday night vs. Ephrata in the District Three AAAA boys soccer semifinals at Hersheypark Stadium.

The Eagles dominated play in the first 15 to 20 minutes, cranking out chance after chance and leaving the Mounts squarely back on their heels. Something had to give and it eventually did as the Eagles scored a pair of first-half goals to take command.

The Mounts play better in the second half and created a few opportunities of their own but unfortunately couldn’t put one in the back of the net. The Eagles then iced it with a tally with 12:44 to play as Cumberland Valley earned a spot in Saturday’s championship with a 3-0 victory over the Mounts.

The Eagles (13-7) will face Hempfield, a 2-0 winner over Chambersburg in the other semifinal, Saturday back in Hershey, beginning at 7:30 p.m.. As for the Mounts (17-4), they’ll face the Trojans (13-3-4) in the third-place game at a site and time to be determined with the winner moving on to States.

“We knew coming out that we had to survive the first 10-15 minutes and unfortunately we didn’t,” Ephrata Coach Rob Deininger said.

Cumberland Valley, the ninth seed, had a jump in its step from the get-go Tuesday. After several early chances, Austin Warren finally cashed in when he ran down a long pass on the right side from Luke Truong and found the net inside the left post in the 10th minute to put his team on top 1-0.

“It’s been a really good season for us and we really renewed an emphasis on attacking,” CV Coach Matt Billman said of his team’s fast start. “We just said, ‘let’s attack.’ ‘Let’s make the other team adjust to us.’ We just really stressed in the first 5-10 minutes lets go at these guys and get after their backs.”

“I just think Austin Warren set the tone for us,” Billman continued. “He moved really well up top for us. A great first goal.”

Deininger agreed.

“(Warren) was a handful for them up top,” Deininger said. “He was a little quicker and a little better striker than we had seen all year. He made a nice run and a nice finish.”

Trailing 1-0, Ephrata had a golden opportunity to tie it midway through the first half when the Mounts’ Andrey Patrushev and CV keeper Matt Zambetti came together at the top of the box. Zambetti went down leaving Patrushev what appeared to be an open net. However, the Eagles’ Talon Davidson snuck in from the side and made the save, and cleared the ball out of harm’s way.

“Kudos to (Davidson),” Billman said of Davidson, “He dropped deep and worked that out. I was really pleased with that.”

Davidson then made his presence felt at the offensive end in the 34th minute, getting a touch on a corner kick to re-direct it past Ephrata keeper Cole Hummel (9 saves) for the 2-0 CV advantage.

“Their guys play year around and are all very skilled,” Deininger said of the Eagles. “They could really control the ball and move without the ball very well. They made us chase, and just wore us down. All the credit to them.”

Ephrata made a concerted effort to get back in the game early in the second half. Ellis Martin had a chance in the 43rd minute but his shot hit off the far post before Zambetti (6 saves) gobbled up the potential rebound.

Three minutes later, Ephrata’s AJ Morales hit a streaking Patrushev down the right side. But the talented senior striker hit it wide.

“As the game went on we had our opportunities,” Deininger said. “We had some really nice opportunities that we couldn’t cash in.”

Asked if the second-half surge was the result of a half-time adjustment, Deininger said no.

“It was just more of the attitude….just keep working hard and try to find the feet of Aaron (Cummings) and Andrey up top. Instead of going over the top, play a little shorter in checking back for the ball. We tried that a little bit and it seemed to work.”

Unfortunately for the Mounts, CV seemed to regain its footing and in the 68th minute iced it when Jesse King buried Devyn Thomas’s deep cross from the left corner.

“In the second half I think we came out a little flat and they came out intense,” Billman said. “Their season is hanging on the line there for sure. So weathering that 10-15 minutes I thought we were able to get the game going our way again and then the third goal is just tough. We’ve been on that end for sure, giving up a third goal, and then there is just not enough time to get back in the game.”

Ephrata, which was outshot 12-8 for the game, never threatened again.

“It just got away from us a little bit,” Deininger said. “They were a little bigger and faster than we were tonight, but our effort was there.”

With still a chance to qualify for States for the first time since 2003, Deininger said his team will need to re-focus Wednesday at practice to get ready for Chambersburg, a team the Mounts knocked out of Districts a year ago in PKs.

“They are a little down in the dumps right now,” Deininger said of his squad. “But we got to where we needed to get to to put ourselves in position to get to States. It would have been nice to get to the finals but it just wasn’t to be tonight.”

The State Tournament gets underway Tuesday with the winner of Saturday’s third-place game facing the District One champion at a site and time to be determined.

Ephrata advanced to Tuesday’s semifinals after knocking off fourth-seeded Wilson 1-0 Saturday night at Hersheypark Stadium.

The Mounts scored in the game’s 13th minute as Patrushev headed the ball in on a rebound off a corner opportunity. After that, Ephrata sat back and withstood every counter punch thrown their way.

The Ephrata defense was taxed throughout by the talented Bulldogs (18-3-1) but stood tall, as did keeper Hummel, as the Mounts hung on for the exciting win.

“That early goal was huge for us,” Deininger said. “We knew they were going to control most of the pace so we had to stay after it. Getting that goal early was really big for us.

“They have a very nice, talented team. Their midfield is extremely skilled so we knew that we’d have to play the balls over the top, get our two strikers going. We were fortunate enough we got a good corner kick, got a header and got it in.”

Patrushev was Johnny-On-The-Spot when Cummings’ header off the corner kick 12:15 into the match was tipped by Bulldogs’ keeper Trent Posta and caromed off the crossbar out in front to Patrushev, who headed it into an open net..

“The goalie tipped it and it hit the cross bar and fell right on the line,” he remembered following the game. “My reaction was do whatever I could, head-first, so I dove and I got to the ball and put it in.”

Wilson definitely picked up the pace but had a hard time penetrating the Ephrata defense. The Bulldogs’ best chance to score came in the final minute of the first half when Caleb Wertz drilled a shot off the post and Matteo Tallarico headed the rebound right at Hummel (3 saves), who gobbled it up.

Ephrata, which out-shot Wilson 5-4 and held a 3-2 advantage in corners, had a chance to tack on with 12:39 to go when Cummings got behind the defense and went in all alone on Wilson keeper Ben Solsky, who replaced Posta. Solsky charged out of his net and denied Cummings’ shot to keep his team within striking distance. However, the Mounts weren’t to be denied.

 

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