Deer Lakes falls to West Allegheny, 3-0
Deer Lakes shook off the pressure of a long playoff drought, but knew what lay ahead in the postseason.
The No. 9-seeded Lancers dropped their WPIAL Class AA quarterfinal match to No. 1 seed West Allegheny, 3-0, on Thursday night at chilly Chartiers Valley.
“We knew what kind of team (West Allegheny) was going to be,” Deer Lakes coach Jordan Weigand said. “We knew they were going to out-possess us. We know they were going to out-shoot us.”
Deer Lakes (12-3-3) broke its decades-long playoff victory drought on Monday night with a 1-0 shootout win over Burrell at Fox Chapel.
“They're so strong in the back, those three defenders, (Zachery Graziani, Joshua Kolarac and Levi Bergset),” West Allegheny coach Kevin Amos said. “We really just let those guys take control back there.”
Graziani put West Allegheny on the board first.
The senior defender sneaked his free kick, from about 30 yards out, past Deer Lakes goalkeeper Austin Barneycastle, off the bottom of the left post and deflected past the goal line.
Graziani added an insurance goal about eight minutes later, on almost a carbon copy of his first.
This time, his free kick found its way just inside the same post, about six feet off the ground.
Graziani has been the spark for West Allegheny all season.
“We work on set pieces, and stuff like that,” Amos said. “He's got the green light whenever he wants it.”
Senior midfielder Nick Jaroszynski added the insurance score, floating a feed just over the fingertips of Barneycastle, but still managed to sneak it under the crossbar.
Though the play in the second half was dictated by West Allegheny, the first half was more about both teams getting a feel for their opponent, rather than attempting to fill the net up.
“(West Allegheny) likes to stack nine in the box,” Weigand said. “We wanted to try to get something going in our transition.”
The first scoring chance, by either team, came at 28:52 when Barneycastle turned away three shots, at point blank.
Barneycastle fell to the ground to turn the first shot away, but looked more like Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, scrambling on his knees to keep the ball out of the net.
Play slowly shifted to the West Allegheny end of the pitch over the next nine minutes.
An apparent Deer Lakes goal was nullified when a foul was called because West Allegheny goalkeeper Spencer Wolfe was ruled to have been bowled over, enabling the ball to cross the line.
Dave Yohe is a freelance writer.