MANHEIM — Sometimes playing even isn’t even enough.
After a back and forth first half in which both Manheim Central and Ephrata shared decent chances, the striker-duo of Andrey Patrushev and Gabe Sensenig provided the visiting Mountaineers all the firepower they would need with two quick goals before the half, propelling Ephrata to a 4-1 victory Monday night at Elden Rettew stadium.
The win tightens Ephrata’s stranglehold (5-0 L-L, 7-0 overall) atop the Section Two standings with an unblemished record of 5-0 in the L-L and 7-0 overall. Meanwhile, the loss evens Central’s overall record to 4-4 and drops them to 3-2 in league play.
But neither the teams’ records nor the scoreboard offered a perfect indicator of the play between the two sides Monday night.
“In all honesty, the first half they had more of the play than we did,” stated Mounts’ coach Rob Deininger. “They came out with a game plan and it worked. We have some offensive power that can change things on a nickel and that happened with those two goals, and that got us going.”
Both Patrushev and Sensenig kept on going, as well, finishing with two goals and an assist each to pace the Mounts attack.
“They could have probably each had another (goal),” Deininger said. “Gabriel is just fantastic with the ball and makes runs and just sets everything up for us. Andrey is more of a pure striker, he gets the ball and he’s just going to plow it.”
The two players ran a counter against Manheim Central late in the opening half with Sensenig burying the feed from Patrushev for an out-of-the-blue 1-0 Mounts lead. Barely a minute later, Patrushev corralled a bouncing ball in front of the net and fired it home to put the Barons in a tricky second-half deficit.
A 2-0 deficit that ultimately forced the issue.
“We had to play a different style in the second half,” said Barons’ coach Rod Brenize, referencing the Mounts’ success on just six shots on goal. “We weren’t able to kind of sit back and work the ball.”
That style had worked well in the first half for the Barons. Each side finished with three corners at the break but Central had a lone shot on goal top off the crossbar in the 28th minute.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a situation.
that we outplayed the opponent the entire first half and we’re down two-nothing,” Brenize said. “You got to give credit to Ephrata, they made the most of their opportunities. They finished their shots. Typically, whenever you can finish shots, you win, and I think that was the story of the game today.”
In the second half, Ephrata scored on Sensenig’s finish off a corner in the 60th minute after a clean service from Raine Slovak. The Barons answered on a beautiful effort from Gareth Kemp, outpacing a defender and sending a strike off Ephrata’s goalkeeper and into the net to cut the deficit to 3-1.
But Ephrata would have the last laugh, Sensenig sending a through-ball past two Barons’ backers to Patrushev in the clear for an easy finish.
By that point, Brenize had opted for a two defender look in the hopes of completing a comeback against a side that had only allowed four goals coming into the night.
“With our skill and our quickness, it forces them to change some things, so it’s important for us to get off to a quick start,” Deininger said. “Tonight we didn’t, but we stayed with it long enough and eventually those guys (Patrushev and Sensenig) will force something in.”
Ephrata 4, Manheim Central 1
EPH _ 2 _ 2 _ — _ 4
MC _ 0 _ 1 _ — _ 1
1. EPH, Gabe Sensenig, 38’
2. EPH, Andrey Patrushev, 39’
3. EPH, Gabe Sensenig, 60’
4. MC, Gareth Kemp, 66’
5. EPH, Andrey Patrushev, 78’
Ephrata Assists: Andrey Patrushev, Gabe Sensenig
Corners — EPH 5, MC 5
Shots On Goal — EPH 6, MC 2
Saves — EPH, Dave Patrushev 0. MC Mason Nissley 2.