Mounts’ season ends in District Quarters

By on November 2, 2016

Top-seeded Hempfield beats Ephrata for second time in two weeks

Ephrata’s A.J. Morales (14) controls the ball in front of teammate  Aaron Cummings (10) during Saturday’s District Quarterfinal match  vs. Hempfield. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Ephrata’s A.J. Morales (14) controls the ball in front of teammate
Aaron Cummings (10) during Saturday’s District Quarterfinal match
vs. Hempfield. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Ephrata’s 15-win boys soccer season came to an end Saturday night on Kruis Field at Manheim Township High School in Neffsville.

The ninth ranked Mounts (15-5-1) fell 3-1 to top seeded Hempfield (20-2) in the quarterfinal round of the PIAA District Three Class 4-A Tournament. It was the second defeat at the hands of the Knights in the last two weeks, the first coming by a 2-1 score in the quarterfinals of the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs.

Hempfield took the lead just six minutes into the game when the Knights’ leading scorer Colby Smith rose above the congestion in front of the net. His header found the left corner after receiving a free kick from mid-fielder Drew Landis. Before that advance Ephrata dominated play in the Hempfield end, including the game’s first corner kick.

“Not many teams get to play 21 games like we did,” reflected Mounts’ Coach Rob Deininger after the match. “Hempfield has a height advantage and they certainly outjumped us on that first goal.”

The Knights put another header on the ball four minutes later on a corner, but this one was wide of the goal.

Ephrata controlled play again during the last four minutes of the first half. The Mounts’ best opportunity came with 1:50 left when junior Aaron Cummings sent forward Andrey Patrushev into the box. The junior’s shot deflected off the closing Hempfield defender and just left of the net. Another chance came a minute earlier when junior A.J. Morales sent a strong 30 yarder toward the right corner. The kick sailed just right of the target.

Following the break, Hempfield was on the attack early again. Just 2:55 into the second half, Drew Johnson found Jarod Bitterman on the left side following a scramble in front of the goal. Bitterman touched the ball into the left corner, giving the Knights a 2-0 lead.

“They came at us in numbers and it worked for them,” added Deininger. “We tried to control possession in the midfield, but couldn’t. That forced us to go over the top. We had some success but you can’t do that for an entire game.”

The Mounts closed to within one 13 minutes later when junior J.T. Truskey emerged from a crowd in front, finding senior Gabe Sensenig who finished for the score. The midfielder had been moved to the forward position only a minute before the goal in an effort to boost the offense. An effort that worked.

However, three and a half minutes later Hempfield took the wind out of the comeback.

Midfielder Christian Benedict stole an errant pass and three touches later unleashed a shot from more than 30 yards away from the goal. The ball took an in-between hop over Ephrata keeper Dave Patrushev’s shoulder to make the score 3-1, the final margin.

Ephrata out-cornered Hempfield by a 6-4 count but the Knights out-shot the Mounts 8-6. Both goalkeepers, Patrushev and Hempfield’s Tristen Green had five saves each defending the back line.

“Our seniors contributed both on and off the field. They worked extremely hard this year,” said Deininger, looking back over the season. “Everyone gave 100 percent tonight. We just came up a little short.”

And the cupboard is not bare for next season either, as the Section Two co-champions started five juniors and one sophomore in Saturday’s District Three contest.

“We’ll be in good shape for next year,” added Deininger.



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