Lancaster Mennonite vs. Oley Valley - District 3 2A boys soccer championship

Lancaster Mennonite's David Lapp (5) looks to pass the ball to a teammate against Oley Valley during first-half action of the District 3 Class 2A boys soccer championship game in Hersheypark Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021.

Sometimes in sports, execution is everything, and during Tuesdays PIAA Class 2A boys soccer tournament opener, Midd-West executed two plays perfectly.

Those plays were enough to end Lancaster Mennonite’s season.

The visiting Mustangs, the No. 2 team from District Four, got a pair of beautiful second-half goals from senior Nicholas Eppley and held on to defeat the Blazers 3-2.

“It’s soccer. You can have a game where you have a lot of chances and nothing goes in and someone else gets a couple chances and they bury them,” Lancaster Mennonite coach Fred Winey said. “This time of year every team you are playing is dangerous.”

Only 14 seconds after getting robbed by sliding Midd-West keeper Cole Keister, Blazers senior Ethan Groff got the ball back and drilled it home, putting Mennonite ahead 2-1 with 15 minutes left in the first half.

Cade Stoltzfus nearly made it 3-1 just as the halftime whistle sounded, but his hurried shot rolled just wide, although it may not have beaten the horn.

“That could have been the game right here. That was basically a two-on-nothing break if we’d had three more seconds he would have tapped it over,” said Winey. “He didn’t have time.”

Nine minutes into the second half, strong-footed Mustangs defender Easton Erb put a free kick right to the head of Eppley, who nudged it past Blazers keeper Josiah Martin.

With 18:17 left, Eppley took a perfect set-up from Noah Romig and redirected it into the cage for the 3-2 lead.

District 3 champion Lancaster Mennonite, which had its season end with a 16-3-1 record, managed a few chances down the stretch.

With the game still tied 2-2, freshman David Lapp rang a tough-angle shot off the crossbar. The Blazers also had a shot go just over the goal with 13 minutes left and had a free kick roll just wide with 1:45 to play.

“They took advantage of the opportunities they had,” Winey said. “We had chances and they did a good job neutralizing some of those chances with working hard and good positioning.”

Midd-West opened the scoring on an own goal after nifty three-way passing forced the ball near the Blazers’ goal.

Not quite six minutes later, Benjamin Nolt reeled in a long pass, made a great move to his right and blasted home the tying marker midway through the first half.

Afterward, Winey had to say goodbye to his seniors, who concluded their high school careers.

“We’ve got a great group of guys in the seniors that led us so well this year, not just on the field but off the field and who they are as people,” he said. “You just want the best for them. I just wish we could have extended the journey a little bit longer.”

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