Peters Twp. stuns USC for WPIAL title
Peters Township goalie Max O'Hare is mobbed by his teammates after recording a shutout to defeat Upper St. Clair, 1-0, in the WPIAL Class AAA soccer championship.
PITTSBURGH – The Class AAA WPIAL boys soccer championship has returned to Peters Township.
The Indians matched Upper St. Clair’s physical play and Mario Mastrangelo scored in the 64th minute, as Peters Township claimed the program’s eighth WPIAL title, upsetting the defending WPIAL and PIAA champion Panthers, 1-0, at Highmark Stadium.
Mastrangelo received a pass from sophomore striker Bennet Faloni, outran two defenders and took a shot from 15 yards out; beating Upper St. Clair goalkeeper Will Petley at the far post in the game’s 64th minute to give the Indians the 1-0 lead in a critical moment.
“It’s fantastic,” Mastrangelo said. “We put in all of the work and it has all paid off in the end.”
The goal was Mastrangelo’s third of the Class AAA WPIAL playoffs and his 18th of the season. The WPIAL championship is Peters Township’s first since 2010.
Upper St. Clair sustained offensive pressure during the game’s closing minutes; continuing to excel on set pieces. Almost two months after the Panthers scored five goals off set pieces on the Indians, Peters Township (17-3-2) found an answer. Using strong defensive play and a championship performance from their goalkeeper, the Indians upset Upper St. Clair (19-1-1).
“We’ve been here eight out of eleven years. During the regular season, we just keep learning,” Peters Township coach Bobby Dyer said. “Not just (the coaches) about them, but the kids about us. We needed to play a perfect game and we did.”
The Indians did not reclaim the WPIAL title without a tough fight from the Panthers. Fortunately for Peters Township, their experienced goalkeeper matched his defense’s strong play with highlight-reel saves; including several in the second half of Friday night’s title game.
One minute before Peters Township took the lead, Upper St. Clair junior forward Joseph Bell fired a shot toward the far post from 25 yards out. Indians senior goalkeeper Max O’Hare dove to his left and deflected the ball with one hand.
“This win, I felt like we really earned it, “ O’Hare said. “Our team was pushing through the end. It was a huge team effort. I wouldn’t have done it with any different people. I’m confident with every single person in my eighteen.”
The top-seeded Panthers entered Friday’s match averaging almost five goals per game this season. Upper St. Clair carried the offensive presence into the first half. Senior midfielder Troye Kiernan was tripped by a Peters Township defender in the fourth minute; setting up a free kick in the middle of the pitch.
Kiernan’s strong, low shot almost beat Indians O’Hare at the far post, but the senior’s diving save continued his exceptional play during the WPIAL playoffs. O’Hare added two more diving saves in the first half, including a diving save to his left in the 13th minute when Upper St. Clair senior midfielder Adam Heil received a perfect outlet pass from Hart.
The Indians redeemed themselves after losing 6-1 to Upper St. Clair on Oct. 10 and gave the program its eighth WPIAL title. To combat the Panthers’ prowess on set pieces, Peters Township used a box formation in front of O’Hare and deflected every attempt toward the outside of the field
“The 6-1 loss was mental errors,” Indians senior defender Max Lindsay said. “We focused in practice on erasing the mental errors and used the box formation. That was one of our main things to correct it. All of the hype around the game and to lose to them earlier in the season, and them having an undefeated season; beating them feels fantastic.”