Deer Lakes girls soccer returns to semifinals for first time in decade
Ten years had elapsed since the Deer Lakes girls soccer team advanced to the WPIAL semifinals.
That decade-long drought ended Wednesday night as the Lancers, the third seed in the Class AA tournament, topped Quaker Valley, 2-1, in a quarterfinal matchup at Lancers Stadium.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Deer Lakes coach Frank Accetta said. “Quaker Valley didn’t let up one second and made us work for everything. It was an intense game, and it’s an amazing feeling to come away with the win.”
The No. 3 Lancers (17-1-1) earned a bye into the quarterfinals and observed the first-round contests. Those games included the No. 11 Quakers’ 1-0 overtime victory over No. 6 Brownsville last Saturday.
Deer Lakes will play No. 2 Hopewell on Saturday at a site and time to be determined. Hopewell defeated No. 7 Burrell, 4-2, on Wednesday.
“It’s going to be a quick two days, but the girls are excited to keep playing,” Accetta said.
Freshman Ashley McAdams scored what turned out to be the game-winner with 2 minutes, 33 seconds left as she gained control of the ball at 18 yards, moved in and fired a shot into the back of the net.
“Ashley had only scored three goals coming into the game. She’s a tough player, and I always tell her to make runs like that and to not be afraid to take people on,” Accetta said. “In that case, she assumed the ball was going to be trapped, and she ran right through it and buried it. You have to take chances in a game like this, and it worked out.”
McAdams’ goal gave Deer Lakes a 2-0 lead. Sophomore Nina Lafko got the Lancers on the board with 13 minutes left until halftime as she found the ball in a scrum after a corner kick.
″(Getting that first goal) really did settle our nerves a bit,” Lafko said. “Quaker Valley plays a heavy defense, so to have that lead, it helped everyone take a deep breath. We just needed to play our game and control the ball.
Grace Wirth scored for Quaker Valley (9-9) with 45 seconds left, but the Lancers defense held off a last-second push from the Quakers.
“We have a good group of girls who worked very hard all season,” Quaker Valley coach Jamie Birmingham said. “Deer Lakes is a very skilled team. That was probably one of the more physical matches I’ve seen this year, and I thought the refs did a good job letting it go.
“We were down several starters tonight, but a lot of the other girls stepped up and went toe-to-toe with a very good team.”
The missing starters included Quaker Valley’s leading scorer, senior Katherine Blaugrund, who was injured in Saturday’s game with Brownsville.
“But no excuses,” Birmingham said. “We had chances to tie it or win it, but it just didn’t go our way.”
Deer Lakes finished with nine shots on goal to five for Quaker Valley. Each team had several other close calls where the ball sailed just wide or high of the goal.
Lily Johns made seven stops for the Quakers, and Gabby Weber had four saves for the Lancers.
Deer Lakes players, coaches and fans held their collective breaths at the 7:52 mark of the first half when junior defender Abby George went down after being hit in the head with the ball. She was tended to for several minutes before walking off without assistance.
She didn’t return to the game. Accetta said she will be evaluated over the next couple of days.