Deer Lakes defender Colton Spence commits to Robert Morris

Friday, April 2, 2021 | 3:01 PM

For the past two seasons, Deer Lakes senior defender Colton Spence has been the backbone of the Lancers defense on the soccer field and now he’s taking his talents to Robert Morris.

Earlier this week, Spence announced he was signing with the Colonials to continue his soccer career after helping the Lancers win their first WPIAL title and make two runs to the PIAA title game in the past three years.

“This is definitely a relief, and being so close to home is nice,” Spence said. “My parents will be able to watch games, and I know a couple of people that are going to school there. It will be nice to see some familiar faces so it’s definitely a relief and I’m happy with my decision.”

Over the past two years, Spence headed a Deer Lakes defense that only allowed 35 goals and recorded 21 shutouts. He was an All-WPIAL selection and also scored three goals and tallied two assists from his defensive position.

“He is fantastic, he’s a 4.0 student, his mentality for the game is fantastic and I’ve always told him he can play at the D-1 level,” former Deer Lakes coach Dan Yates said. “There was plenty of places, but he was waiting.”

After talking with new Robert Morris coach Jason O’Keefe, who came to RMU from Appalachian State, Spence will continue to play defense and is excited to have the opportunity to prove himself.

“RMU kinda came up out of nowhere, but what I really like about coach O’Keefe is that he said I had to come in and work hard and nothing was really going to be guaranteed,” Spence said. “I’m all about working hard to earn my playing time and earn my spot.”

Spence said he was also talking to Millersville, Geneva and Mount Union, but he said the Colonials were just the right fit. He’s also excited to be able to play close to home in Pittsburgh.

“That was definitely really big for me, only being 45 minutes away. I won’t have to drive two or three hours to get to college and I can come back home when I want to,” Spence said. “It’s definitely nice.”

Spence won’t be the only player from the A-K Valley playing at Robert Morris next season. Highlands senior Gabriel Norris signed with the Colonials in December, and former Springdale goalkeeper Mike Zolnierczyk is in his sophomore season. He’s started in four games this spring and has registered two shutouts while making 22 saves.

He’ll also have his high school coach on the sidelines as Yates recently joined the program as an assistant coach.

“It will definitely be nice to see a familiar face there and I love Yates, so it’s going to be nice to have him as an assistant coach there over the next four years,” Spence said.

Since he was young, Spence has been working toward playing soccer at the highest level and has always had his sights set on playing collegiately. Over the past three years, while leaving his mark on the Deer Lakes program with a WPIAL title and two PIAA championship appearances, Spence has displayed the ability to do so.

So, signing his national letter of intent to play at the next level was obviously something he was excited about.

“I’ve worked over the past couple of years to play in college and play at that top level, the next level as my coach always says,” Spence said. “So, it’s definitely a dream come true.”

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


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