Shady Side tops Deer Lakes in section soccer battle

Thursday, September 19, 2019 | 9:13 PM

Throughout the 2018 boys soccer season, Deer Lakes and Shady Side Academy established a rivalry that produced some pretty good soccer.

There was the 2-2 tie at the beginning of the year and then the 3-1 Deer Lakes victory at home during the regular season. Then, Shady Side got the better of the Lancers in the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs with an exciting 1-0 win on the way to their second straight WPIAL title.

But the Lancers got the last laugh in the PIAA state tournament semifinals, when they scored two goals with just over six minutes left to propel themselves into the Class 2A state championship game.

On Thursday, when the two teams met up for the first time in 2019, they added another chapter to their rivalry.

No. 2 Shady Side Academy converted a Joe Anania free kick, that was either tapped in by Hazen Hamda or was deflected by a Deer Lakes defender, with about six minutes left in the first half to make it 1-0. After that, they never looked back and earned their seventh Section 2-AA victory of the season.

“This is the first of four games. We’re expecting to see them a lot this season,” Shady Side Academy coach Ed Ellsworth said. “We’ll see them late in the season, I’m sure we’ll see them in October, and I’m sure we’ll see them in November. So, the fact is, we’re always excited to play a quality team like them.”

After scoring the go-ahead goal in the first half, the Indians packed it in and took advantage of counter-attack opportunities the rest of the way, but the Lancers defense never broke again.

Deer Lakes midfielders Michael Sullivan and Devin Murray had double-teams thrown at them the rest of the way and the Lancers couldn’t quite break through the jam-packed Indians defense.

Their closest opportunity came midway through the second half when junior midfielder Ryan Rodgers sent a cross to Murray in the middle of the box. Murray attempted a one-touch shot, but it went wide.

The Lancers (6-3, 6-1) didn’t play their best game Thursday night, but first year coach Dan Yates was able to take a few things away from an early season loss.

“With that game plan, it just showed how worried they were about our team,” Yates said. “We didn’t play well at all today to get a victory, so they probably deserved that on merit, but they had a game plan and they stuck to it.”

With the victory, the Indians (7-0, 7-0) take sole possession of first in Section 2-AA and while getting a win over the Lancers is a key early in the season, Ellsworth and his team are confident in their abilities.

“We’re the two-time WPIAL champions, so the fact is that we’re confident because we’ve been there,” Ellsworth said. “We’ve played in the last three WPIAL finals and we have an expectation.”

Playing a top team like Shady Side can give a team an idea of where it stands. Although they came out on the losing side of things, Yates got a pretty good idea of where his team is.

“As you can see, we are there, or thereabouts,” Yates said. “When a team with the same record as you sits back at home and doesn’t really try and attack, just plays the long ball, we know we are up there.”

Chapter two of the Deer Lakes and Shady Side Academy saga will take place on Oct. 10 at Deer Lakes.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at or via Twitter .

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