Deer Lakes falls short but promises to come back stronger

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Sunday, November 10, 2019 | 6:21 PM


After coming up just short in the PIAA Class AA state championship last season, the Deer Lakes boys soccer team came into 2019 with unfinished business.

They set a goal for themselves to not only get back to the state championship, but to reach their first WPIAL championship and bring home the gold.

The Lancers reached that WPIAL final, but suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Quaker Valley in double overtime. Then, after capturing an overtime victory over Juniata in the first round of the state tournament, the Lancers came up just short against District 10 champion Mercyhurst Prep, 3-2, on Saturday at Slippery Rock High School after Lakers forward Jarrett Harry netted a hat trick.

“I’m so happy that I could get them to a WPIAL final for the first time,” Deer Lakes first-year coach Dan Yates said. “I’m just disappointed because I was actually quietly confident when we came in today. We had three back to deal with that Jarrett (Harry) kid, but he’s an absolute animal.”

In his first year of coaching high school soccer, Yates led the Lancers to a record of 17-6, helped the program establish itself as one to look out for in Class AA.

In their six losses, two of them came in the postseason and three more came against teams ranked in higher classifications. A 1-0 loss at Shady Side Academy on Sept. 19 was their only regular-season loss to a Class AA team.

After that loss, the Lancers won 11 of their 12 games leading into the WPIAL championship. They produced eight shutouts during that stretch and although they trailed in a few of their postseason games, Yates never counted his team out.

“These guys just fight and want to win and they commit themselves to every single game they play,” Yates said. “We’ll be back bigger and stronger next year. Yes, we lose five seniors but I keep a majority of the starting players which is a big thing in high school soccer.”

AJ Dorman, Ryan Butler, Alex Rodgers, Scott Rothrauff, and Tyler Tofil are the five seniors and they all provided their own unique skill throughout the season.

Rothrauff and Dorman provided speed and scoring ability up front. Tofil and Rodgers played an excellent midfield and Butler was the third piece of a stout defense that kept a lot of teams off the score board.

But the future is still bright.

“We have a couple of freshman kids coming in from the JV, and we have a couple of freshman kids that played on varsity this year that will be back,” Yates said. “… I’m looking forward to next season already.”

Section 2-AA Player of the Year Michael Sullivan returns and All-Section players Devin Murray and Colton Spence also come back to control the midfield and head the defense.

“We’re gonna build on the program and we’re gonna come next year and see what we can do. I can guarantee we’ll be back next year,” Yates said. “We’ll be up around the WPIAL finals and state finals next year, and I have no doubts about saying 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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