Ryan Rodgers scores 3 goals to lead Deer Lakes to PIAA title game

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Tuesday, November 17, 2020 | 8:49 PM


For the last two years, Deer Lakes has been looking to get back to Hersheypark after coming up just short in 2018.

On Tuesday night, on a snow-covered field at Lancers Stadium, the Lancers (17-1) accomplished that goal with a dominating 3-0 victory over District 10 champion Fairview (19-1-1) to punch their ticket to the PIAA Class AA final Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.

“I can’t believe this is real, and getting back there is just amazing,” Ryan Rodgers said. “After that win tonight, we’re just going to come focused and ready to play on Saturday.”

The Lancers will take on District 4 champion Lewisburg at 1:30 p.m.

Rodgers, a senior forward who scored one goal against Karns City on Saturday in the quarterfinals, scored all three goals Tuesday, and it was no surprise to coach Dan Yates.

“Our gameplan was to get him involved more today because I knew Sonny (Fairview coach Sanjin Vidakovic) was going to target Mikey (Sullivan) and Dev (Murray),” Yates said. “He’s not stupid. He’s a very good coach, so it was all about, ‘Can we get Ryan Rodgers involved?’ We had two or three tricks up our sleeve, and they came out today. It was unbelievable.”

The Lancers got off to a hot start, too, as Mike Sullivan dribbled the ball into the right corner and put a cross into the center of the box before Rodgers skipped a header over the outstretched hands of Fairview goalkeeper Richie DeArment 33 seconds into the game.

“We were just coming out hot. Thirty seconds in, you couldn’t really ask for a better start,” Rodgers said. “That motivated us to keep going through the rest of the game.”

From there, the Lancers controlled the game. Despite the “sticky” snow, they were able to work the ball around the field and look for opportunities as they have throughout the season.

They found over-the-top balls and through balls in the middle, and they controlled the possession throughout But the Tigers were able to put a occasional pressure on the Lancers and create a few opportunities of their own.

Each time they did, sophomore keeper Nick Braun impressed as he came up with multiple saves throughout the night.

“These were just tough conditions to play in,” Yates said. “But I thought the boys were fantastic in it today. They adjusted when they needed to adjust, and they played when we could play and they went long when we had to go long.”

Rodgers scored two more times in the final 14 minutes to put a cap on the victory.

First, Sullivan sent a ball to the front and Rodgers fended off two Fairview defenders before sneaking a shot past DeArment to put the Lancers up 2-0. At that point, Rodgers could taste Hershey’s chocolate.

“I did feel like (we were going to Hershey),” Rodgers said about how he felt after scoring his second goal. “We kind of slowed down for a little bit, but our defense never lets down. So to come out on top, that’s pretty awesome.”

Rodgers added his third goal of the night with just under seven minutes remaining and capped it off with a sliding celebration in the corner.

The Lancers are heading to Hershey, and Yates only knew of one way to describe his feeling.

“I’m over the moon,” Yates said with a laugh.

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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