WEST LAWN — Working hard for each other.
Those were Ephrata coach Wes Deininger’s words about his team early in the year and pretty much summed up their efforts in a 2-1 loss to Wilson in a District Three Class 4A semifinal on Tuesday night.
From passing to defending the net, it wasn’t about ‘I’, it was about a common goal, bringing home a championship to Ephrata.
It took some time for Wilson to put the winning score up, and it was because of the Mounts defenders who did a great job neutralizing any threat the Bulldogs tossed at them. Especially when the Bulldogs’ top scorer, Berks player of the year Natalee Vicari, got near the net. Both Kendall Miller and Taylor Leakey seemed to always be there to make a stop.
But as the game neared its 73rd minute, Wilson was finally able to make some passes and get one by Sophia Gonzalez, who otherwise was stellar in goal throughout the game. One save, coming off a shot by Vicari 27 minutes into the contest was SportsCenter worthy.
“We played well overall, but they worked very hard and, unfortunately, we had a letdown after a good scoring chance,” Deininger said “Hopefully, now they can bounce back and be prepared. They have had a great season so far, and I just love them.”
Ephrata fell to 17-5 on the year and won’t be playing for the district crown, but as Deininger said, the season isn’t over yet. By virtue of wins over Cumberland Valley and Manheim Township, the Mounts qualified for the PIAA soccer tournament as the No. 3 or No.4 seed out of District 3.
As for the winning goal, Kiera Levengood created the opportunity in space, and Macy McDonough, who joked she stole the goal from her, put it in for the Bulldogs (22-1-1).
“I kind of stole the goal from Kiera but wanted to make sure it got in,” McDonough said. “Because being a senior and almost losing a week ago, it’s great it went in. We wanted to go to the district finals.”
Wilson struck fast in the game, just four minutes into it to be exact. After a nice save by Gonzalez on a corner by the Bulldogs’ Elizabeth Estrada, in a scramble, Levengood was able to get one past to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.
For the most part, the game was evenly-played by both teams, with just three shots on goal, and two corners as half hit. The Mounts did come to life late in the first half. On a perfect corner from Kendall Miller, Kirsten Doutt put a header past Alexis Solt. That came just after the 30-minute mark for her seventh of the year.
“Kendall usually doesn’t take corners and had that amazing ball, and it was probably my best,” Doutt said. “We were, in my opin- ion, the better team, but it happens. We’re still heading to states and I’m proud of us.”
After her goal, it was the Mounts defense’s turn to make a big play. As the clock waned near the final minute of the first half, Wilson’s Elizabeth Estrada made a break towards the goal. Sydney Hornberger stepped in front of the ball to knock it away.