Deer Lakes rolls past Charleroi to qualify for PIAA boys soccer tournament
There was a sense of frustration among the Deer Lakes boys soccer players after Monday’s shutout loss to Shady Side Academy in the WPIAL Class AA semifinals.
The No. 2 Lancers fired off 26 shots in the game but were not able to score once in a 1-0 setback.
The Lancers channeled that angst into a dominant performance against No. 4 Charleroi Thursday in the third-place consolation game at Moon High School.
Deer Lakes led 3-1 at halftime and added four goals in the second half to pull away for a 7-1 victory.
“We definitely wanted to score and needed to get some chances,” Lancers coach Jordan Wiegand said. “We knew Charleroi was going to come out flying, and it’s a tribute to them. They are a really well set up team. But over time, we were able to chip away, break them down and start forcing them to play a game maybe they didn’t necessarily want to play.”
Junior forward AJ Dorman led the way with a hat trick for the Lancers. He scored once in the first half and added two after halftime.
Michael Sullivan, Devin Murray, Ronan Renter, Nick Caro added scores for Deer Lakes, which improved to 18-1-1 overall.
“It (stunk) that we lost (Monday), but we knew we had to bounce back,” Dorman said. “We knew Charleroi was a pretty tough team. We couldn’t let our guard down or fall apart. We took advantage of the opportunities we got.”
The victory puts Deer Lakes (18-1-1) in the PIAA playoffs for the first time in program history. It will play Tuesday against District 10 champion Fairview at a site and time to be determined.
“We were able to let the Shady Side Academy game go and move forward,” Wiegand said. “We still have something to fight for. It’s going to be tough no matter who we face (in the state playoffs). There are no bad opponents at this point.”
The Lancers’ triumph also gives sophomore forward Ryan Rodgers one more opportunity to take the field this season. Rodgers was issued a pair of yellow cards against Shady Side Academy and, per WPIAL rule, had to sit out Thursday’s consolation contest.
“We’re excited to have him back,” Wiegand said. “He will be a crucial piece for us moving forward.”
Charleroi’s only two losses this season came in the past three days. The Cougars concluded their season at 18-2.
“I think we lacked winning those 50/50 balls in the air, and that helped them start their charges,” Charleroi coach Jon Ducoli said. “I thought we did play well defensively, but they just had more scoring threats than we were able to pick up at times.”
Charleroi was without starting midfielder and junior Leo Iacovangelo because of injury.
The Cougars registered the first shot of the game four minutes in as Nick Laskey unleashed a rocket from 25 yards out. But Jesse Greyshock made a diving stop to keep the game scoreless.
“That save really set the tone,” Wiegand said.
Deer Lakes then started to tip the field to its favor. The Lancers finished the half with a 7-3 advantage in shots on goal, and they had several other opportunities go wide or sail above the crossbar.
Sullivan made his second shot of the half and the team’s third overall count as he fired the ball in from about 30 yards to beat Charleroi keeper Nick Goodwin. With 22:19 left until the break, Deer Lakes led 1-0.
Goodwin got a hand on a hard shot from Sullivan off a direct kick with 19 minutes on the first-half clock, but he was unable to corral a slower grounder off the foot of Devin Murray about three minutes later.
Murray’s offering from 28 yards found its way between the legs of Goodwin and into the net to extend Deer Lakes’ lead to 2-0.
Ten minutes passed before the Lancers found the back of the net again. Dorman went to the net after Goodwin slightly bobbled a save attempt and headed the ball in to make it 3-0.
Charleroi got one back with just under four minutes to play until halftime as Cullin Woytovich converted a penalty kick. The goal was the junior forward’s 50th of the season.