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It’s fitting that lacrosse is a game of runs, because Wednesday’s rivalry matchup between the Cocalico and Ephrata boys turned into a track meet.

In the end, the Mountaineers wrapped up a successful regular season with a thrilling 16-13 nonleague victory over the visiting Eagles.

Four different Ephrata players tallied hat tricks, sophomore goalie Jai Howard had a big game, and the Mountaineers (12-6) held off Cocalico’s late comeback attempt to earn the win.

“It got a little stressful there for a little bit, a little uneasy, but the guys did what they had to do to maintain the lead,” Ephrata head coach Teagan Pfautz said. “At the end, we came out with a three-goal win.”

Trailing 14-8 with 10 minutes to play, the Eagles (13-4) scored five straight goals to cut the deficit to one with three minutes to play.

“They started following and executing,” Cocalico coach Matt Oberly said of his team’s ability to fight to the end. “We have struggled throughout the year of waiting to get going until we’ve dug ourselves a hole. That game was emblematic of what we’ve done a lot this year.”

With the Mountaineers clinging to a 14-13 lead, Brayden Brown corralled a faceoff to stymie Cocalico’s momentum.

An Eagles penalty helped Ephrata run some clock, and following a sequence of turnovers, Brown dished to Parker Snow (three goals) to extend the Mountaineers’ lead.

Trent Altemos (three assists) scooped the ensuing faceoff for Ephrata and later assisted on an empty-net goal by Montgomery Sensenig to round out the victory.

The game featured a flurry of mini-runs by both sides. The Mountaineers had an early 3-0 lead before Cocalico’s Tate Renaud, Kaden Martin and Andrew Digman scored in succession to even the score.

Ephrata started to pull away in the second quarter. Freshman Tyler Thomas assisted on a series of goals as the Mountaineers built a 10-6 advantage at the half.

“They were doing a really good job moving the ball to the backside and finding the open guy for a stepdown shot,” Pfautz said of his team’s attack. “They were working as a team, not as individuals, and that’s the difference between good teams and great teams.”

Both goalies took charge in the third quarter. Howard made five of his 11 saves in the third, and Cocalico’s Evin Collata-Rigney made four of his seven stops as the teams went a full seven minutes without scoring.

“Jai is a fantastic goalkeeper. He’s bailed us out on several occasions, not just in this game,” Pfautz said.

Martin, who finished with a game-high five goals for Cocalico, broke the scoreless drought. The teams exchanged goals from there, and Ephrata led 12-8 entering the fourth quarter.

Goals by Thomas and Sensenig gave Ephrata its largest lead at 14-8 before the Eagles rallied.

“It wasn’t one of those Ephrata-Cocalico games that I’ve been in, physical and beating on each other,” Pfautz said. “This was good lacrosse and they handled (the rivalry) fantastic.”

Ephrata now looks ahead to a probable District Three Class 3A playoff berth. Cocalico will face off against Manheim Township at 7 p.m. Friday in the Lancaster-Lebanon League semifinals at Warwick.

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