Mounts battle Black Knights but fall 13-9 in semifinals

By on May 8, 2019
Ephrata’s Caden Keefer (6) tries to control the ball in front of the Hempfield defender during Tuesday’s L-L semifinal at Penn Manor. Photo by Missi Mortimer 

Ephrata’s Caden Keefer (6) tries to control the ball in front of the Hempfield defender during Tuesday’s L-L semifinal at Penn Manor. Photo by Missi Mortimer

The Ephrata boys’ lacrosse team was the home team on the scoreboard Tuesday afternoon at Comet Field in Millersville. They earned that designation by capturing the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Two title.

The Mounts were matched against Section One runner-up Hempfield in the L-L League semifinals.

The Black Knights hold the number five slot in the District Three AAA power rankings, but fell behind 2-1 to the eight seed Mounts in the game’s first five minutes. That’s when the perennial L-L power went on a seven of eight-goal run, spurred by complete dominance in face-off draws, to take a commanding 8-3 after the first 12 minutes.

“Their offense is so dynamic,” admitted Ephrata Head Coach Mike O’Donnell. “In the first quarter, we were running a certain type of zone. They picked it apart.”

The Mounts made an adjustment in the second period, out-scoring the Knights 2-1 in a more defensive period to cut the lead to 9-5 at the half.

“In the second quarter, we went into a different zone defense,” added O’Donnell. “They had a hard time trying to figure it out. And Ethan Moyer (18 saves) made some fantastic saves. We gave up the shots we wanted to give up. In the first quarter, we gave up two or three goals because we couldn’t clear the ball after the save.”

Ephrata kept the upper hand in the third quarter, scoring twice while holding Hempfield off the board and squeezing the Knights lead to 9-7 after three periods. Once again, Moyer was dominant in the net.

“He was fantastic,” Explained O’Donnell. “He’s the reason that we play zone defense. We trust him to make those saves from outside, even with the good shooters that Hempfield has.”

When Mounts senior Bryson Rhee (4 goals) scored from in close with 8:56 left on the clock, Ephrata was within one score at 9-8. But the Knights responded twice within 36 seconds to open up some breathing room and force Ephrata out of its zone shell.

“At the end of the game, we had to come out and press a little more,” explained O’Donnell. “We knew we were in trouble if we had to come out and press them.”

Despite junior Caden Keefer’s second goal of the game, the Knights would score twice more to make the final margin 13-9 and advance to Thursday’s L-L League championship game against Section One Champ Manheim Township, a 16-2 winner over Lancaster Catholic/Lancaster Country Day in Tuesday’s other semifinal.

While Hempfield out-shot Ephrata 31-12, the Mounts did convert 75% of the shots taken. In addition to Rhee and Keefer, Ephrata got scores from Cody Mountz, Brock Boyer and Kyle Raudenbush. Boyer, Rhee and Raudenbush were also credited with assists.

Up next for the Mounts is a Tuesday first round District Three Tournament game at a site to be determined. If the current rankings hold, Ephrata will host New Cumberland in the eight-nine game with the winner likely to take on top seed Manheim Township in round two.

“It’s another tough draw with a perennial power house,” added O’Donnell. “We need to come up with a better start. Start clearing the ball and try to come up with a solution with the face-offs.”

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