Dan Yates resigns as Deer Lakes boys soccer coach after successful 2-year run

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Thursday, April 1, 2021 | 3:51 PM


After leading the Deer Lakes boys soccer program to its first WPIAL title, back-to-back WPIAL championship game appearances, and its second PIAA championship game in three years, coach Dan Yates is moving on to the collegiate level.

Since coming to the U.S. from England, Yates has had the goal of coaching at the collegiate level and was given the opportunity to do so this spring with Robert Morris.

Former Appalachian State coach Jason O’Keefe took over the Robert Morris men’s soccer program this fall and in February offered Yates the opportunity to come on board as an assistant coach.

“When I had my interview with Deer Lakes, I told Mr. (Chuck) Bellisario (Deer Lakes’ athletic director) that within five years I wanted to be in the college game,” Yates said. “I had all plans of seeing my freshman class through and then progressing, but when an opportunity like this presents itself, I couldn’t say no.”

Yates took over the Deer Lakes program in the summer of 2019 and inherited a talented roster that had made a historic run to the PIAA championship game the year before.

A junior trio of Mike Sullivan, Devin Murray and Colton Spence highlighted the group and led the Lancers on a special run the past two years.

They won a combined 34 games while only losing eight times with Yates at the helm. In his first year, Deer Lakes reached its first WPIAL championship appearance. In an exciting back and forth match, Quaker Valley topped Deer Lakes, 4-3, in overtime.

The Lancers’ season came to an end in the PIAA quarterfinals when they fell to Mercyhurst Prep, 3-2, but it was also a turning point for the team.

“The intensity, the focus and the manner of the boys, they became more professional after that,” Yates said. “They became more accountable after that, and you could see it in the way we were structured.”

Then, this past season, the Lancers weren’t going to let a coronavirus pandemic stop them from achieving their ultimate goal. They put together a 17-2 record and won the WPIAL Class 2A title with a victory over Shady Side Academy in a penalty kick shootout.

“It was the best two years of my coaching career so far,” Yates said. “I told the boys the first day I met them that we were going to win the WPIAL and we were going to be in the WPIAL finals. If they listened to what I wanted us to do, we were going to get there.

“I wanted to be that coach that won Deer Lakes its first WPIAL title and I did that. My goals were set and achieved.”

The Lancers won their next two state tournament games with victories over Karns City and Fairview before a 6-0 loss to Lewisburg in the PIAA championship.

Yates helped the Lancers become one of the top boys soccer programs in Class 2A in just two years, and although they’ll lose a core group of seniors, the Lancers will still have a lot of talent returning next season.

“Over the next six or seven years, that program has classes coming in that are going to thrive,” Yates said.

Sophomores Ryan Hanes, Ruger Beer, Mason Metzler, Michael Butler, Nate Litrun and Nick Braun all started this season and will contribute heavily next year.

Yates’ resignation will be accepted at Deer Lakes’ April school board meeting, and officials will open up a search for a new boys soccer coach shortly after.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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