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Barons battle Ephrata to a scoreless draw
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
As Manheim Central coach Rod Brenize told his players in the post-game huddle on Tuesday night, "The writing was on the wall."
His point was that all signs leaned toward a low-scoring game when his Barons visited Ephrata in a clash of Section Two contenders.
It was hard to argue that.
The Central and Ephrata boys each had allowed just one goal in their first four games.
True to form, the defenses ruled the day, and after 100 minutes of soccer in muggy conditions under the lights on the Mounts’ turf field, the game ended the same way that it had started – in a 0-0 tie.
At game’s end, Brenize looked at the glass as being half full for his Barons (2-0-1 L-L, 4-0-1 overall).
"Looking on the bright side, we got a point," Central’s skipper said. "We could’ve got none. We didn’t get three, but we got a point and we could have got none. And we didn’t concede to a team that already beat one of the top teams in Elizabethtown on their field. So looking on the sunny side of the day, it was a good day."
It would have been a better day if not for a spectacular save by Ephrata (2-0-1 L-L, 3-1-1 overall) senior keeper Kole DeHaven as Central forward Damon Crouse curled a first-half kick around Ephrata’s wall. The ball was ticketed for the corner of the net before DeHaven made a lunging save – one of his five saves – to keep it out.
"We had some chances," Brenize said. "The best chance of all was (Damon’s kick). That’s a goal on anybody in the league except this fellow (DeHaven). He dove in the corner and made an outstanding save."
The Mounts had a couple chance of their own, none better than when Chris Hershberger fed Mario Murcia at the left post with just over 28 minutes to go in regulation, but MC keeper Logan Kready (5 saves) was there to make the stop.
The game plan for the Barons was to work the ball toward the corners, staying away from Ephrata star Alex Smith in the middle. Central was able to generate nine corners, to Ephrata’s two, but couldn’t capitalize.
"That was the best chance for us to score was to go get a corner and have chaos in front of the goal because then (DeHaven)’s got bodies flying everywhere and he can’t really see the ball as well," Brenize said. "We just couldn’t finish one of those."
As the game proceeded to OT, Ephrata had better opportunities in the first 10-minute session, and then the Barons controlled the play in the second extra stanza, getting a shot on goal by Colin Brubaker which was saved by DeHaven to preserve the stalemate.
"If you don’t give up a goal, you’re not going to lose," Brenize said. "That’s awesome. I’m proud of our guys. Do I wish we would have won? Yeah. But I’m proud of our guys."
Last Saturday, the Barons traveled to Millersville and came away with a hard-fought 1-0 non-league win over Penn Manor. Crouse scored the game-winner with just 1:27 left in the second half, converting on an assist from Jason Andrews.
The Comets had a slim 8-7 advantage in shots, but Kready recorded the shutout with five saves between the pipes.
In other action, Tanner Brenize scored on a penalty kick with 2:10 left in the first OT period last Thursday, lifting the Barons to a 1-0 league victory over Garden Spot.
That was one of 15 shots that Central had in the game, to the Spartans’ five, but GS keeper Logan Eby finished with 14 saves to give his team a chance. Central also had an 8-2 edge in corner kicks and Kready earned the shutout with five stops in goal.
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