Stags Get Second Chance At State On Saturday

Deer Park senior forward Ella Carnahan looks for a shot on goal against Lakeside on Tuesday. Carnahan led DPHS with 37 goals this season.

The Lakeside Eagles shocked the Deer Park Stags 1-0 on Tuesday, scoring a last-minute goal to claim the Northeast A League high school soccer championship and earn an automatic bid to the state tournament. Deer Park has another chance to make the 1A state bracket — a win over Cascade High School on Saturday would guarantee the Stags a spot in the 16-team field.

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It was 40 degrees and raining when play kicked off on Tuesday evening at Spokane Falls Community College. Deer Park had several chances to score in the goalless first half, but were unable to sneak anything behind Lakeside’s senior goalkeeper Kaylyn Randazzo. The Stags controlled the time of possession and prevented the Eagles’ attack from penetrating dangerously.

The second half was more of the same, however Deer Park just couldn’t find the back of the net. During stoppage time late in the match, Lakeside senior forward Jaidynn MacDonald scored with the Eagles only shot on goal all evening. In all, the Stags had 15 shots on goal, however Randazzo saved them all.

“They had one opportunity,” Deer Park head coach Sean O’Neal said of Lakeside. “If we dominate a game like that and we can’t find a way to score, that’s on us. I’ve been coaching for 27 years — I’ve never been in a game like that and [didn’t] win.”

The loss was just the second of the season for Deer Park, and the third in two years after claiming the state title in 2021 with a 21-1 record. The Stags’ only two defeats this campaign have been to Lakeside (3-0 on Oct. 11) — they also tied 0-0 with West Valley.

“We are absolutely solid, but we just are struggling to score goals in big games,” O’Neal said. “If we can’t figure that out, then we’re going to be in trouble. So we’ll fix it.”

Deer Park (14-2-1 overall, 11-1 NEA) will host Cascade (10-6 overall, 7-2 Caribou Trail League) at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Deer Park High School. From Leavenworth, the Kodiaks will drive over three hours for the high-stakes NEA/CTL crossover matchup.

Seeding for the 16-team state tournament will be unveiled at noon on Sunday — a win for the Stags over the Kodiaks would guarantee the team a chance to defend last season’s state championship title. A state soccer berth for the Stags would be the 10th in school history and the fifth at the 1A level.

“We will be prepared,” said O’Neal, who has been coaching at DPHS since 2003. “As long as we can score goals, I’m not concerned.”

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