Deer Lakes dominates Mt. Pleasant, reaches 2nd straight WPIAL title game

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Monday, November 2, 2020 | 9:08 PM


As the No. 2 Deer Lakes Lancers worked their way through the regular season and playoffs, they’ve relied on their group of captains — Devin Murray, Mike Sullivan and Colton Spence — to carry the load. But on Monday at Lancer Stadium, it was the supporting cast that stepped up to the challenge.

Senior Ronan Renter scored two goals and Ryan Rodgers, Ryan Hanes, Ruger Beer, Joey Kushon and Murray all added a goal apiece as the Lancers (14-1) secured a 7-1 victory over No. 6 Mt. Pleasant (13-2) to earn their second straight berth to the WPIAL Class 2A championship game.

“This is a good score for us, and I feel like everything is starting to click,” Deer Lake coach Dan Yates said. “It’s where I thought it would be, and it’s good for the other boys too, because we know they can do it.”

The Lancers will play No. 1 Shady Side Academy (14-2) for the WPIAL championship at 5:15 p.m. Thursday at North Allegheny. Shady Side took down No. 3 Elizabeth Forward, 4-0, on Monday.

“It’s always a good game between us,” Yates said. “If we play the way we can, we can beat anyone. Four-A, three-A, whoever it is, I don’t care, I’d put my team up against anyone in the WPIAL. We just have to play right, we have to play correct.”

Ryan Rodgers got the scoring started for Deer Lakes halfway through the first half after Colton Spence sent a long ball over the top of the Vikings defense. The senior forward ripped a shot and then put the ball into the back of the net on a rebound.

Renter got his first tally when Ryan Hanes sent in a ball to the opposite post. Mt. Pleasant keeper John Menefee made a nice play on the ball, but it ricocheted around the 6-yard box and Renter knocked it in.

“The goalie made a nice save on it, and I was going to hit it again, but I decided to fake it and put it in,” Renter said. “It felt good.”

The Lancers took their 2-0 lead into halftime, but when both teams came out of the break, the Vikings put the pressure on and tried forcing the Lancers into mistakes.

It paid off 12 minutes into the second half as senior Lucas Toohey found himself all alone on the left side of the box and fired a right-footed shot off the right post past sophomore keeper Nick Braun.

But about halfway through the second half, the floodgates opened up as the Renter scored his second goal of the evening, finishing off a cross from Sullivan to put the score at 3-1.

The Lancers scored four more goals in the second half, including Kushon’s with 3.7 seconds left on the clock. Mt. Pleasant coach Floyd Snyder III said he regretted not implementing more pressure from the first whistle.

“Looking back at it, I wish we would’ve just come out from the very beginning and just played our game, and this is all on me,” Snyder said. “I feel bad I put the boys in that spot, and I think if we would’ve just come out and pressured like we did in the second half, I think we would’ve been more in the ballgame.”

The Vikings had a special season, with a special senior class, and coming into Monday night, they had only allowed four goals all season long. It was the type of class Snyder will never forget.

“They were one of the most coachable groups I’ve ever had,” Snyder said. “They came into the season ready and in shape. They came in ready to play, and it’s unfortunate the score is what it is because they are a better team than that.”

The Lancers will now head to the WPIAL championship game for a second straight season. They fell to Quaker Valley 4-3 in double overtime last season, and after the season they’ve had, the Lancers feel like they are starting to hit their peak.

“We’re getting to a point where the football is looking absolutely fantastic,” Yates said. “Like some of the combination plays tonight was practically premier level, like the way they moved the ball was absolutely ridiculous for a high school group. Hopefully, we just take care of business. We’ve been there, we got a T-shirt, we know what the finals feel like, and the next step is winning it.”

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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