Deer Lakes tops North Catholic in overtime to advance to boys soccer semifinals

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019 | 8:32 PM


The first 85 minutes of the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinal matchup between No. 2 Deer Lakes and No. 7 North Catholic was a stalemate, but something was bound to break sooner or later.

Five minutes into the first overtime, Deer Lakes forward Mike Sullivan settled a rebound off a free kick and delivered a rocket into the back of the net that broke the tie and propelled the Lancers into the semifinals with a 1-0 victory Wednesday night.

Now the Lancers will face the task of taking on No. 3 South Park, which defeated No. 6 Freedom on Wednesday 1-0 in overtime. The teams will face off on Saturday at a time and place to be determined.

“I saw the ball pop out and I knew the goalie was a little bit out of position to his right side,” Sullivan said. “So, I said I had to shoot it and it went in.”

Before that goal, the teams that combined for a total of 27 wins this season were ultimately even. The shot differential was 12-10 in favor of Deer Lakes and the possession was level.

The Lancers (15-4) controlled the first 25 minutes of the game. Sullivan put a free kick on net three minutes into the game, then AJ Dorman banked a volley off the top-left crossbar 13 minutes later. Shortly after Dorman’s near-goal, the play started to lean towards North Catholic.

The Trojans (13-4-2) created several opportunities towards the end of the first half but couldn’t quite find the frame as several of their shots veered wide of the net. But they continued to put pressure on the Lancers and almost broke through two or three times.

“They are a good side. They have some quality players and they shouldn’t be a seven seed,” Deer Lakes coach Dan Yates said. “I told the boys whoever we face, we have to step up and play our A game no matter what. The first half today, we were just off and that’s the nature of the sport and we just kept plugging away.”

Both teams came out of the break with an added sense of energy, but the possession was the opposite of the first half. North Catholic controlled the first 20 minutes and then the Lancers started to take control, giving them an idea something was close to happening.

“It had to break, with some of the chances we had that barely missed,” Sullivan said. “I mean credit to North Catholic. They played some incredible defense and had some great chances themselves, but you could feel we were right on the brink.”

With about three minutes remaining in regulation, the Trojans created their best opportunity of the night. North Catholic’s Gabe Gallup won the ball around the top of the left side of the 18-yard box, took a dribble and ripped a shot, but Deer Lakes freshmen goalie Nick Braun made his biggest save of the night and pushed it wide of the goal.

“Credit to him. Two minutes left in the game and he makes an audacious stop,” Yates said.

The Lancers will advance to the WPIAL Class AA semifinal for the second straight year. Last year, they suffered a tough defeat at the hands of Shady Side Academy, which went on to capture its second straight WPIAL championship.

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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