Deer Lakes boys soccer edges Freeport
The Deer Lakes boys soccer team had a two-sided goal as it hosted rival Freeport on Thursday in the Section 2-AA finale for both teams.
Not only did it hope to secure a victory over the Yellowjackets to clinch second place in the section standings, it also wanted to maintain its streak of shutouts.
Senior Brendan Wangler's tally with 33 minutes, 22 seconds left in the second half broke a scoreless tie, and the Lancers defense made it stand up in a 1-0 victory.
“This was a huge win for us because it really helped our playoff seeding,” Deer Lakes junior goalkeeper Jesse Greyshock said.
Deer Lakes, 11-2-2 overall and 9-2-1 in section play, posted its seventh straight shutout since a 1-0 loss to section champion Mt. Pleasant on Sept. 13. The Lancers' only blemish during that run was a 0-0 tie with Shady Side Academy last week.
“It's a battle (with Freeport) every time,” freshman Colton Spence said. “We knew it's going to take a great effort to get the win. It's just a great feeling.”
Deer Lakes coach Jordan Wiegand said he expected Thursday's rematch with Freeport (12-5, 8-4) to be another close and competitive contest. The Lancers, No. 4 in the latest Tribune-Review WPIAL Class AA rankings, won the first meeting 3-2 on Sept. 21 on a goal by Devin Murray with three seconds left.
Deer Lakes topped Freeport twice in a single season for the first time since 2013.
“Both teams came to play with a lot on the line,” Wiegand said. “We knew it was going to be that type of battle that might not be the cleanest game in terms of technique and passing, but it was intense and physical.”
Freeport coach Dave Teorsky said he was proud of the way his players competed.
“They played a clean, classy game of soccer and stayed composed in a very competitive environment,” he said.
While the Deer Lakes defense was preventing Freeport from getting many charges across midfield in the first half of the second 40 minutes, the Lancers were creating several chances of their own.
The play that produced the winner started with a corner kick. The ball went in a number of different directions in the box in front of the Freeport goal.
It eventually landed at the feet of Wangler, who directed a close-range shot that deflected off the body of a Freeport defender and went in past Yellowjackets keeper Giovanni Pugliese.
Deer Lakes finished with a 12-4 advantage in shots. Greyshock only had to make one save.
Pugliese made several strong saves, including a diving stop on a penalty kick with 13:37 left in the first half.
“Giovanni has really stepped up his game and has gotten better as the season has gone on,” Freeport coach Teorsky said. “Our guys were a little out of sorts with that penalty awarded in the box. His save on the penalty kick was huge. It kind of took away some of their momentum and kind of gave us a boost.”
Thursday's 1-0 result was Deer Lakes' third such victory of the season. The Lancers have outscored their opponents by a combined 19-0 during their seven-game unbeaten streak.
“We felt that after the first half, and with the missed PK, we were bound to get one,” Wiegand said. “It was matter of when. We kept pushing.”