EPHRATA — Work hard, reap the reward.
Ephrata’s Maddie Root dug in and delivered the Mountaineers to the semifinals of the District 3 Class 4A girls soccer championships, scoring twice in the first half.
Then the Mounts defense proved impenetrable in the second half of a 2-1 victory over Carlisle on Saturday night at Mountaineer Field.
Fourth-seeded Ephrata (18-2-1) will face top seed Central Dauphin Tuesday, site and time to be announced.
The Rams prevailed over Hempfield on Saturday 2-1 in overtime.
Root, a senior midfielder, scored unassisted in the 15th and 39th minutes, the goals coming through diligence and persistence.
“She’s tenacious, always,” Mounts coach Wes Deininger said. “She earned both those goals on her own.”
On the first goal, she gained possession of the ball deep in the right side of the box, fighting her way up the end line.
Shaking the last defender, she squeezed a shot between keeper Grace Hoffman and the near post.
“The defender was pushing hard,” Root said. “I just had to fight through it.”
With time running out in the half, she received a ball from Reagan McCarty in the left slot, and worked her way into the box.
From inside the 10, she unleashed the game winner into the right corner.
“I couldn’t just panic and kick it,” she said. “I had to keep my composure, find a corner and hit it.”
In between, Madeline Ashby evened it up for the Thundering Herd (12-8).
Five minutes into the second half, Carlisle took over the match, doing everything but score the equalizer.
“The second half wasn’t the most beautiful,” Deininger told his team, “but we found a way to win. During the playoffs, that’s the most important thing.”
“We made sure we remained calm and organized,” Mounts keeper Jocelyn Umana said.
The Herd created 10 chances in the half, with five of their six corners and seven shots on goal, including a three-shot sequence, at near point-blank range, in the 65th minute.
None of the shots got through to Umana as the Mounts defense put up a force field.
“I’m always there, “ Umana said, “but I’m very thankful when someone steps in front of [a shot].”
“We kept pretty compact,” Deininger said. “There were a lot of bodies in there for extended stretches.”