Deer Lakes ready to ‘take care of business’ in PIAA semifinal matchup

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Monday, November 16, 2020 | 7:02 PM


Two years ago, the Deer Lakes boys soccer team made an improbable run to the 2018 PIAA Class AA championship game, and the Lancers have been looking to get back ever since.

After a 2-0 win over District 9 champion Karns City on Saturday in the state quarterfinals, the Lancers (16-1) took a step toward that goal. As for their semifinal matchup against District 10 champion Fairview (19-0-1) at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Lancers Stadium, the WPIAL champions expect one of their toughest matchups to date.

“They are going to be a good side to play against, but anybody that comes out of that district, you know they are going to be good,” Yates said. “We are looking forward to a good game, and it’s going to be a different type of challenge to what Saturday was.”

Karns City attempted to implement a physical style of play that countered Deer Lakes’ tactical approach in Saturday’s quarterfinal. There were penalties, a few yellow cards and a lot of talk between both teams.

The Lancers let their game do most of the talking before cruising to a dominating 2-0 win. That likely won’t be the case Tuesday as Fairview comes into the matchup undefeated and plays a similar style to the Lancers.

“It’s going to be much more of two teams looking to play soccer,” Yates said. “We’ve got a couple of things up our sleeves that will help us, and we’re looking forward to it.”

Last season, after coming up short in the WPIAL Class AA championship against Quaker Valley, the Lancers lost 3-2 to District 10 champion Mercyhurst Prep in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals. It was a disappointing loss in which the Lancers did not execute their gameplan.

That loss still resonates with the program and has served as a focal point in the quest to return to the state final in Hershey.

“It’s definitely motivation for us,” senior Colton Spence said. “The younger kids and the sophomores are familiar with it now so it definitely helps knowing where we need to be at, along with the setting and the atmosphere. It helps a lot.”

This team is different from last year’s. Deer Lakes is more confident and peaking at the right time.

In the postseason, the Lancers have outscored their opponents 19-2, including scoring seven goals twice in the WPIAL playoffs. They are playing the type of soccer Yates wants.

“Everything is clicking, and it’s perfect,” Yates said. “We just need to carry on that, and what more can you ask for? It is sunny in November, and we are playing soccer still. But these guys all believe in themselves. They all want to win it. They all want to play, and they all want to continue their high school careers, especially these seven seniors.”

Fairview has yet to lose this season, the Tigers’ only blemish a 2-2 draw against Mercyhurst Prep, and they have outscored their opponents 61-8.

“When we were sophomores, we wanted to win that title absolutely, but everyone was just kind of in shock that we were able to get there,” senior Devin Murray said. “Now we’re here again and this has been our goal, so we’re ready to take care of business.”

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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