Deer Lakes edges Shady Side Academy in penalty kick thriller, wins first WPIAL title

Thursday, November 5, 2020 | 9:27 PM

The Deer Lakes and Shady Side Academy boys soccer teams were all knotted up in head-to-head matches over the past four years as they met Thursday to decide the WPIAL Class 2A boys championship.

The teams split their season series with Shady Side winning the first and Deer Lakes the second.

The close, intense, physical rivalry continued between the section foes as penalty kicks were needed to determine the winner on the turf at North Allegheny.

Perhaps it was fitting the penalty-kick shootout went beyond the normal five attempts. Sophomore Ruger Beer gave Deer Lakes a 4-3 lead with a goal past Shady Side goalkeeper Bruce David in the sixth round. Lancers goalkeeper Nick Braun then stopped Shady Side shooter Owen Martens to clinch Deer Lakes’ first WPIAL championship.

“It was crazy. I was just so nervous,” Beer said. “My heart was in my shoes. If I miss it, I miss it. But if I make it, we win. I just shot where I thought (David) wouldn’t go.

“I can’t even describe how happy I am right now. It’s crazy. It’s so surreal.”

Braun stopped an initial attempt by Martens, but the attempt was waved off by the referee as Martens started before the officials whistle.

“I didn’t think we won because the ref told me and the other goalie that we’re doing five more kicks. Everyone goes and then it’s sudden death,” Braun said. “I had no idea we won. When everyone came out, I was yelling, ‘We didn’t win. We didn’t win!’ That’s why I didn’t have much emotion after we won.”

After a few minutes, the triumph set in for Braun.

“It’s amazing,” Braun said. “We made it last year, and we lost (to Quaker Valley) in overtime,” he said. “We persevered and went through all of it together.”

Seniors Colton Spence, Ryan Rodgers and Michael Sullivan also scored for Deer Lakes in the shootout, while freshman Drew McKim, senior Gunnar Pipitone and senior Caleb Massie tallied shootout goals for Shady Side.

A shootout attempt by Shady Side junior Sam Farner in the fourth round hit the crossbar.

“This is so special. It really is, especially for the seven seniors,” Deer Lakes coach Dan Yates said. “They’ve all worked their tails off. They battled all season with a smaller squad of just 19 kids. They deserve this. I told the boys when I came in that we were going to win the WPIAL championship. We were close last year, and I said we weren’t going to give this one away this year.”

Deer Lakes (15-1) now moves on to the PIAA tournament and will open play in the quarterfinals Nov. 14 at a site and time to be determined against the winner of a inter-district matchup between teams from District 5 and District 8 or 9.

Because of safety protocols and logistics, the PIAA set the state brackets to include only district champions. As a result, Shady Side Academy‘s season came to a close with Thursday’s loss.

Shady Side finished 14-3 overall.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” Shady Side Academy coach Ed Ellsworth said of the way the game played out. “It’s two great teams. Honestly, it’s a game people will talk about for years. It came down to a few kicks from 12 yards out. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Both teams were championship level tonight.”

The game was scoreless until the 58th minute when Farner used his head to give Shady Side the lead.

A clear attempt by Braun deflected off Farner’s head at about 8 yards and looped in past the goalkeeper.

Deer Lakes came back after the Shady Side goal and generated several scoring attempts against Shady Side second-half goalkeeper Zach Conti, including a point-blank shot by Sullivan with 15:59 left that Conti gobbled up.

The Lancers tied the game with 7:30 left in regulation as Sullivan, who scored both goals in Deer Lakes’ 2-0 win over Shady Side Academy on Oct. 14, found the back of the net off an assist from Ryan Rodgers.

Shady Side Academy set itself up to take the lead 11 minutes into the game as junior Joey Anania was taken down in the box by Spence. Farner took the penalty kick but was denied Braun.

McKim redirected an indirect free kick for Shady Side about five minutes later that deflected off the right goal post.

Deer Lakes’ first shot came with 16:15 left on the first-half clock off the foot of Rodgers. His laser beam from about 20 yards missed a couple feet to the left.

With about four minutes left until the break, Sullivan fed senior Devin Murray in front of the Shady Side goal, but Murray’s quick-touch redirect was hauled in by David.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .

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