Deer Lakes enters season with ‘unfinished business’ mindset

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Monday, August 19, 2019 | 6:25 PM


Deer Lakes boys soccer made a historic run last season.

The Lancers captured their first section championship in 15 years, reached the PIAA tournament for the first time in school history and then came up just short of a state championship, falling to Fleetwood, 1-0, in the finals.

After a full offseason, the Lancers hope to take the next step this season, and first-year coach Daniel Yates has already witnessed their drive and determination.

“These guys are hungry for it; they lost in the states last year and they want to get back there,” Yates said. “They even created a hash tag for it, #unfinishedbusiness.”

Deer Lakes returns 10 starters from a team that went 21-2-1. Back are the leading scorer, senior AJ Dorman, who scored 24 goals; and top playmaker, midfielder Colton Spence, who had 21 goals and 24 assists; and several other players who contributed to their run.

Yates said he knows he’s stepping into a great situation but he believes there are areas where he can help the Lancers improve. With his Manchester, England background, he has started to install new concepts he has had success with in the past.

“It’s possession-based stuff, but it’s not just with the possession; it’s possession with the intent of going forward,” Yates said. “We want to create as many chances as we can, we want to win the ball back as high as we can, we want to try and play as I see the right style of soccer.”

Yates’ perspective has started to rub off on his players, who are seeing the field in a way they haven’t in the past.

“Having that European and British background, he’s bringing a lot of British components into our system,” Dorman said. “He compares a lot of what he wants to do to Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United. I think just his expertise of a different style of play is helping us see things in different ways.”

One area Yates won’t have to address with his team is the chemistry the Lancers have built. Since they were young, the core group of players have played in club and youth soccer together. Devin Murray, who was another first-team All-WPIAL selection last season, said it was one reason they made it as far as they did last year.

“I think our chemistry is one of the specialties we have,” Murray said. “We get along well and we’re family. But, I also think our work ethic is huge. The work we’ve put in, we all bought in, and I think that’s why our success happened.”

While the Lancers have a majority of their team back from last season, they have one giant hole to replace in between the goal posts.

Goalkeeper Jesse Greyshock had 10 shutouts and was named the Valley News Dispatch Boys Soccer Player of the Year. While it will be difficult, Murray believes they can overcome the loss.

“It’s a huge loss,” Murray said. “He’s not replaceable in our minds but we are going to have to do something to change it up, and hopefully it will work out for us. We have two goalkeepers who are hopefully going to work out for us, and were happy about that.”

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

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