Deer Lakes inches past South Park in overtime, advances to WPIAL boys soccer semifinals

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Thursday, October 29, 2020 | 9:37 PM


The No. 2 Deer Lakes Lancers were pressing all night long Thursday, waiting for a goal to manifest and propel them to the WPIAL Class 2A semifinals for the third straight year.

It didn’t happen in regular time, and it didn’t happen in the first overtime, with but 3 minutes, 57 seconds left in the second overtime, senior captain Devin Murray found the back of the net off a corner kick to punch his team’s ticket to the semifinals as the Lancers beat No. 7 South Park (12-3), 1-0.

“We were struggling with corner kicks all night. We had a lot of them, and we just couldn’t put them in the right place,” Murray said. “So we talked at halftime and told them to put the ball in the right place, and we know that’s hard to do. But we finally got one and put it away.”

Deer Lakes (13-1) will play No. 6 Mt. Pleasant at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Deer Lakes. Mt. Pleasant beat North Catholic, 2-1, on Thursday.

The Lancers might have gotten away with one, though. Before the end of the first overtime, Nick Braun got drawn out of net on a save, and a South Park player fired a shot toward a wide-open net. A clear handball by a Lancers defender kept the ball out of the back of the net, but no penalty was called, and the Lancers cleared the ball.

“They said they didn’t see it,” South Park coach Jon Cantwell said. “I thought it was pretty obvious, and they thought I was coming out to complain about it between the overtimes, but I was just asking about when our guy with a yellow card could step back in. They proactively said they didn’t see it. We had some other chances, not a lot, but we had a couple of good chances.”

Through most of the game, the Lancers dominated play. They controlled possession through the first 40 minutes and were trying to stay patient until a goal came. But as time wore on, they couldn’t find the back of the net due to a tight South Park defense and a few missed opportunities.

Deer Lakes senior Mike Sullivan scored two goals against South Park in the Class 2A semifinals last year and drew a lot of attention on Thursday. He was normally followed by at least one defender and sometimes had two extra defenders guarding him with the ball at his foot. He still created chances, and so did others as the Lancers recorded 15 shots on target.

One came late in the first overtime as Colton Spence ripped a free kick that rebounded off the keeper to the feet of Ryan Rodgers, but the follow-up went just over the net.

“The fight and the commitment tonight was awesome,” Deer Lakes coach Dan Yates said. “They had a couple of chances where we made mistakes and they got in, but luckily, we were able to break them down eventually, even though it may have come with three minutes to go in overtime.”

As some teams have this season, the Eagles stayed back in their defensive half and tried to absorb the Lancers attack, but Murray and his teammates knew they just had to stay patient.

“We knew one was going to come,” Murray said. “We talked halftime, and just because we were moving the ball around, it didn’t mean anything unless we had some action, and we finally found that and created some chances in the second half.”

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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