Hempfield sinks Cocalico in L-L League semifinals

By on May 10, 2017
Cocalico’s Bryce Shaffer (17) shakes off a Hempfield defender during Tuesday’s L-L semifinals played at Warwick. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Cocalico’s Bryce Shaffer (17) shakes off a Hempfield defender during Tuesday’s L-L semifinals played at Warwick. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Possession is one of the keys to success in the game of lacrosse. The more you have it, the less chances the opposition has to score.

It’s a pretty simple formula, and Hempfield executed it to a “T” Tuesday night in the L-L Boys Lacrosse finals vs. Cocalico at Warwick.

The second-seeded Black Knights dominated the face-off circle, 17-3, and in turn, held the ball for large portions of the game. Leading 6-3 at the break, Hempfield frustrated the Eagles in the second half, outscoring them 7-0 over the final 24 minutes. When the Eagles did come up with a few chances, goalie Tanner McAlpine (13 saves) was there to bail them out.

In the end, it was more than enough for the Black Knights to pull away and earn a 13-3 victory and a trip to Thursday’s finals.

Kohl Wesner scored four goals while Matthew Heuston chipped in with a pair of goals and three assists for the Knights, who improved to 12-5 on the season.

“Their face-off guy (Cole Fuller) is one of the best in the league,” Cocalico Coach Matt Oberly said following the loss. “He’s fantastic, and it became very difficult to generate consistent offensive possessions. He did a very outstanding job, taking nothing away from him.“They generated such long offensive possessions that when you have the ball for six minutes and then you score on top of that, it’s debilitating to a team.”

Cocalico (11-7) did get off to a good start as Owen Zimmerman scored on the Eagles’ first shot of the game less than two minutes in to give his team the early 1-0 lead.

That lasted a little more than two minutes before Westner scored the first of three-straight tallies off a feed from Cameron Aksu. After Westner’s second score at the 6:58 mark gave his team its first lead, Cocalico’s Noah Palm came in from the left side and beat McAlpine to knot it at 2-2.

But Hempfield would begin to take command in the latter stage of the first quarter and early in the second. Westner scored with 10 seconds left in the first as Hempfield retook the lead at 3-2. Then the Black Knights opened with three quick tallies early in the second from Heuston, Aksu and Westner to up the lead to 6-2.

Cocalico did get one score back on a tally by Nick Harbst with 7:05 to go, and it remained that way to the half.

Hempfield then took control for good in the third. McAlpine robbed Harbst from point-blank range early in the period. Then two minutes later twice turned away good shots from Cocalico’s Bryce Shaffer. Those saves spurred a 3-0 run late in the quarter to make it a 9-3 game heading to the fourth.

Fuller won the opening face-off of the fourth and went coast to coast before beating Cocalico goalie Ben Puodziunas (8 saves) for a 10-3 advantage. Then after another face off win, the Black Knights drained more than four minutes off the clock before Jackson Shand scored to make it 11-3 and put it away.

Colin Kaiser and Bryce Witmer rounded out the scoring with a pair of goals down the stretch.

One big key, in addition to Hempfield’s possession, was the fact that the Eagles couldn’t take advantage in man-up situations. Cocalico had the Black Knights down a man six times on the night and only came up with one goal.

“Our man-up wasn’t where it needed to be today,” Oberly said. “The truth is early on we got some really good looks. McAlpine made a bunch of really stand-up saves…I don’t think our shot placement was where we wanted it but they got that momentum and good teams ride momentum. Credit to them.”

The Eagles will now re-group as they get ready for Districts, which begin with first-round action next Tuesday.

“Take nothing away, we are disappointed by this but this year is still a success in everybody’s eyes,” Oberly said. “I’m very, very proud of them. We are going to re-group and I have no doubt that this team is going to make a run in Districts. We are going to lick our wounds. We’ll be OK and come out and have a hard practice tomorrow and go out there and kick some you-know-what in Districts.”

Cocalico closed out the regular season Saturday night at Ephrata where the Eagles out-scored Ephrata 5-1 in the fourth quarter to pull away with an 11-5 victory at WellSpan Field in Ephrata.

Zimmerman scored four goals while Sam Stewart added three tallies to lead the Eagles to the victory.

Ephrata, which closed out the season with a 3-8 record in league play (5-13 overall), got goals from Bryson Rhee, Dustin Fisher, Noah Roark, Kyle Raudenbush and Caden Keefer.

Cocalico out-shot the Mounts, 37-21. Puodziunas made nine stops in the Eagle net while Brad Horst saved 14 for Ephrata in the loss.

The Eagles also were in action last Thursday at home where visiting LCD/Lancaster Catholic out-scored the Eagles 3-0 in the second half to earn an 8-6 upset win over Cocalico.

Palm scored a hat trick to pace the Eagles. Shaffer and Harbst also scored for the Eagles as Puodziunas saved eight in the loss.

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