Deer Lakes girls aim to rebound against Avonworth in WPIAL consolation game

November 20, 2018

Deer Lakes went more than six weeks between losing soccer games this fall, 15 games separating the Lancers’ lone regular-season defeat to North Hills to their loss to Hopewell in the WPIAL Class AA girls soccer semifinals.

They hope they can go on a similar run now.

Even after the 5-2 loss to Hopewell on Saturday, No. 3 Deer Lakes (17-2-1) still can earn a spot in the PIAA Class AA tournament with a victory over Avonworth in the WPIAL consolation game at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Mars.

“It’s not a big turnaround,” Deer Lakes coach Frank Accetta said after the loss to Hopewell. “Basically, you’ve got to get the stink of what happened (Saturday) out of our system. I suppose whoever we’re going to play on Tuesday is going to have the same feeling, so that’s all we can really do.

“Everybody wants to go to the championship. That’s what you work towards all season, and when you don’t get there, I don’t care what team you are -- you’re going to be a little disappointed.”

If Saturday’s loss had a silver lining, Accetta said, it’s that Deer Lakes still had a chance to play another game -- unlike last season, when a WPIAL first-round loss ended the Lancers’ season.

A still-young, still-improving program now can earn a spot in the state playoffs for the first time since 2008. Accetta said Saturday’s loss provided a chance for growth, too: a three-goal Hopewell spurt put Deer Lakes in a four-goal hole early in the second half, but the team rallied to score two goals and make it a game with 15 minutes remaining.

“I told them last year we were losing by three goals to Freeport and came back and tied it,” Accetta said. “So you’re never really out of a game with what we have as an offense. ... Hopefully we can channel this and just remember what this felt like so you don’t have to feel it again.”

No. 5 Avonworth (13-6-2), which finished behind Hopewell in Section 1-AA, is coming off a 3-0 loss to top-seeded South Park in the semifinals. Before that, the Antelopes upset defending WPIAL champion Waynesburg in the quarterfinals.

Avonworth senior Abby Wert is a Pitt commit, while her younger sister, Ava, leads the team in scoring. The loss to South Park snapped Avonworth’s seven-game winning streak, so both the Antelopes and Lancers were playing strong soccer at the end of the season.

“You’ve got to have a short-term memory and let it go,” Accetta said. “I told the kids, you played hard (Saturday), and let it go. Obviously, you came up on the wrong end of the score ... but Hopewell’s a great team, and maybe we can see them again in the future.”

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