Franklin Regional keeper Jeremy Lucas commits to St. Francis (Pa.)

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019 | 3:53 PM


When initial plans to continue his soccer career at Penn State fell through in the winter, Jeremy Lucas reshaped his post-prep plans.

The recent Franklin Regional grad would take a gap year, keep playing for his club team and take courses at Penn State New Kensington until a larger-scale soccer strategy took shape.

Then, Dayton looked like his landing spot.

“Dayton was my No. 1 option,” he said.

But then St. Francis (Pa.) called and everything changed.

The Red Flash offered the All-WPIAL goalkeeper a scholarship and the sides quickly reached an agreement for Lucas to join the men’s soccer program in Loretto.

“They reached out to me at the end of the June, asking if I was interested after seeing my highlight video,” said Lucas, who was a key part of Franklin Regional’s most stingy team last fall, the punctuation mark in net for a unit that allowed seven goals all season, won a WPIAL Class 3A championship and led the Panthers to a 20-1-1 record.

Lucas and the defense posted 16 shutouts.

“It meant a lot to me because I always knew I could play at that level and everyone around me was getting their opportunity to,” he said. “Soccer is by far the most unique and toughest recruiting process, especially as a goalkeeper.”

Franklin Regional coach Rand Hudson raved about the play of his 6-foot keeper.

“I know he has been told several times, if you’re not 6-2 or taller, don’t bother trying for D-1,” Hudson said. “They say that until they see him. He’s 6-foot but he can fly: springs in his legs and reaction saves. He is the most technically sound of any keeper I can remember. Not a huge wingspan, but when you see him play, it is a ‘yes.’ “

Hudson said Lucas ranks with another standout who came through the Panthers program — Chris Ralph, a keeper who went on to become an All-American at Penn State Behrend.

“The other thing that distinguishes him is the use of his feet,” Hudson said of Lucas. “A team that likes to keep the ball will love him. He is an extra field player. Confident and sometimes bold with the ball, he delivers breakout passes on a dime in stride. His throwing distribution and vision of the whole field is superior.

“I believe St. Francis will be over the moon with their decision.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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