Deer Lakes boys soccer searching for first WPIAL title

Thursday, October 31, 2019 | 5:18 PM

Since its loss in the PIAA Class AA championship game last season, the Deer Lakes boys soccer team has been on a mission.

Not only do the Lancers want to get back to the state finals, which would be their second appearance in school history, they also want to cross another “first” off the list.

They want to win a WPIAL title.

“When I first started meeting with the boys, I told them we will make the WPIAL final this year, 100%. This was before we even started kicking the ball,” first-year coach Dan Yates said.

After producing an overall record of 16-4 and capturing their second section championship in a row, the Lancers will travel to Highmark Stadium on Friday in search of that first title.

“It was our main goal when Coach Yates first got here. We wanted to make the WPIAL finals,” junior midfielder Devin Murray said. “Now that we’ve gotten here, it’s great to see all the success that we have built up.”

It won’t be easy. The Lancers match up against Section 2-AA champion Quaker Valley, which has played in the Class AA championship game for the past three years and captured the title in 2016.

The Quakers haven’t lost a game since the first week of the season and field an offensive attack that has outscored opponents 160-16. The Reiter brothers, Dom and Fritz, have combined for 80 goals and 43 assists, and three other Quakers have surpassed the double-digit mark in goals.

“We know what they are capable of. We know they are great players,” senior captain Ryan Butler said. “But I feel like the defense, if we go into the game playing how we have, stick to the plan and take care of business back there, it will be a good result for us.”

Quaker Valley’s strengths are apparent, but the Lancers have a few of their own. Throughout the course of this season, the Lancers have adopted a style of play that has meshed how they played last year with new tactics that Yates brought to the team.

It’s helped them outscore opponents 78-14 and win 10 of their last 11 games. But with a new coach, there can be growing pains at times as the players and the coach combine their styles together.

The Lancers worked their way through those ups and downs, and a 2-1 win over Freeport toward the end of September was a true sign of what the Lancers felt like they could do.

“That was the first real game where we saw that we could pass the ball around teams,” junior Michael Sullivan said. “When we want to play our way, we can play our way and we can dictate how the game is played. Watching that game from the sideline, it was great to see.”

On Friday, the Lancers will take on a team that’s been to the WPIAL Class AA finals for the past three years but the Quakers have also been beaten on this stage the past two years as well. So Sullivan and his teammates know that their opponents will be hungry.

“We just have to outwork them,” Sullivan said. “We have to bring the effort because we know they are going to. They’ve been there the past three years and have gotten stood up, so you know they are going to have that fire. We have to match that and be one above them.”

The teams will kick off at Highmark Stadium at about 8 p.m. Friday.

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

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