Mounts hold on to turn back Cocalico

By on April 11, 2018


Ephrata’s Bryson Rhee (right) checks Tyler Hertzog of Cocalico during Tuesday night’s match in Denver. (Photo by Missi Mortimer)

As much success as the Ephrata boys lacrosse has tasted over the years, Cocalico has always been a tough out for them.

In fact, the two teams have met three times in the past two years and the Eagles came out on top in all three meetings.

Tuesday night in Denver, the two rival squads squared off again. And despite a big difference in their respective records, this one was another knock-down, drag out party.

Ephrata held the lead for most of the way, but the Eagles always stayed within striking distance. Finally, a big fourth quarter push fueled by four Cocalico penalties was enough to propel the Mounts to a hard-fought 14-12 victory.

Bryson Rhee scored five goals with an assist while Kyle Raudenbush (4 goals, 1 assist) and Caden Keefer (2 goals, 4 assists) also had big games as the Mounts improved to a perfect 7-0 for the first time in program history.

“We felt good about our team but to think we were going to be at this point right now, I don’t think it’s realistic for me to say that,” second-year Ephrata Coach Mike O’Donnell said following the win. “But we still were confident. We knew that we had talent but we’ve had some teams before that had talent but didn’t put it all together.”

Ephrata has pushed all the right buttons thus far, and did so again Tuesday when things got tight.

The Mounts ballooned a 7-5 half-time lead to 11-6 late in the third, but the Eagles seized momentum scoring three unanswered goals, including two in the final 24 seconds of the quarter to cut the Ephrata lead to 11-9.

Shawn Kernaghan (2 goals, 2 assists) scored off a feed from Ethan Steffey with 3:00 to go, then after Ephrata turned it over in the final minute, Owen Zimmerman found the net to draw the Eagles (0-4 league, 1-6 overall) within three with 24 seconds left. then after a face-off win by Brayden Johnson, Noah Palm ripped a shot that beat Ephrata goalie Ethan Moyer (8 saves) to cut the deficit to two heading to the fourth.

“Don’t let that record deceive you,” O’Donnell said of the Eagles, “We know. We knew they were going to come out swinging, and that’s exactly what they did. That record is not a true indication of how good that team is. They have a lot of talent, especially on offense. They are deadly in transition…a lot of good athletes. A lot of credit to them. They played hard and we definitely had to earn it tonight.”

Cocalico was it’s own worst enemy in the fourth, committing four big fouls, including one in the opening minute of the quarter to give the Mounts the man advantage. Raudenbush was quickly set up by Keefer and he beat Cocalico keeper Ben Musselman (4 saves) to make it 12-9 with 9:14 to go.

In the middle of the period, the Eagles’ Nick Harbst scored on back-to-back possessions to cut it to 13-11. But again, a pair of man down situations with the Mounts leading late finally sealed the deal on the Eagles.

“What hurt us more we were a little sloppy and complacent in the third quarter,” explained Cocalico Coach Chris Laudenslager. “We allowed them to put in a couple of goals into the net that they could have worked a little harder to earn. But we left quick goals in, and we didn’t do much defensively to step up physically to get them out. And then when we got the momentum back, at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth, things were going really well and then we started making mental mistakes and got the penalties. We haven’t been able to put together a full four quarters of a game yet. We’ve been getting better at it but we are still not where we need to be to finish out on top.”

Palm, Zimmerman and Harbst all scored three goals apiece for the Eagles, who really had their transition game and their overall offense working on this night.

It was an overall good display by the Eagles, who will look to carry the momentum they gained into their next contest.

“Our boys have the skill to play great lacrosse,” Laudenslager said. “When they choose to do it they do play great lacrosse. It’s just we go into these mental deficits where we just get off our game, stop playing a physical game and we get sloppy. It takes us a lot to get back up and going again. It’s on me to try to figure out what it’s going to take to get this team to click the second half (of the season).”

Ephrata remains hitting on all cylinders. The Mounts had scored 75 goals in their first five games, which is the highest total in program history, even more than the 2012 club (67) that went on to win the District Three title.

“It’s a combination of things,” O’Donnell said when asked about the offensive numbers his team has put up. “First thing it’s the amount of work our kids put in the off season. We tell them, your sticks got to be ready when you show up in the beginning of March. You can’t show up and work on that stuff too much during the year. They put in the time, and our offensive coaches, Joey Sellers and Tucker Keefer, have done a great job getting kids to buy into the scheme. We shifted our offense around a little bit and the kids have just been open minded and are listening…it’s been a combination of good coaching, a lot of hard work in the off season and just some God-given talent.”

In addition to Tuesday, Ephrata added a three other victories late last week in L-L League play.

Friday night at home, the Mounts overcame an early 4-1 deficit by out-scoring Elizabethtown 14-2 the rest of the way to earn a 15-6 victory. Rhee had three goals and four assists to pace the Mounts. Noah Roark led the Mounts in goals with four while Keefer and Raudenbush also added three goals apiece in the win.

Ephrata out-shot the Bears 31-6 as Moyer made 10 saves to earn the win.

Last Wednesday at Garden Spot, the Mounts jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead before cruising to a 17-5 victory.

Raudenbush scored six goals while Rhee chipped in with five goals and three assists. Freshman Brock Boyer added four goals while Roark also found the net twice for the Mounts.

Moyer made eight stops for Ephrata, which out-shot the Spartans 27-13.

Ephrata also added a 12-4 non-league win over Conrad Weiser Saturday in Berks County.

Leading 6-3 after three quarters, the Mounts closed the game on a 6-1 run to win 12-4.

Roark had four tallies while Rhee chipped in with two goals and three assists for the winners.

As for the Eagles, they earned their first victory under Coach Laudenslager last Wednesday at home with an 11-5 non-league victory over Wyomissing. Zimmerman and Palm both scored three goals each as the Eagles broke open a tight game in the fourth quarter, out-scoring the Spartans 4-1 during that stretch.

Kernaghan added a pair of goals in the Cocalico win while Musselman registered eight saves.

In addition to that contest, the Eagles also were in action Thursday at home where they dropped a 24-11 decision to Hempfield.

Palm scored five of the Eagle goals while Zimmerman chipped in with four scores in the loss.

Musselman registered 13 saves in the Cocalico goal.

Both Cocalico and Ephrata return to action Thursday as the Eagles host Lancaster Mennonite while the Mounts also are at home facing once-beaten Penn Manor (5-1).

Cocalico will also be in action Friday at Conestoga Valley while Ephrata rounds out the week with a road game at Palmyra Saturday at 10 a.m.


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