Lance Lysowski | Observer Reporter
It’s hardly uncommon for a coach of any sport to talk about this year being a team effort, how everybody contributes and how it’s hard to point to one particular player. But Peters Township High School boys soccer coach Bob Dyer might have a better argument than most considering that his leading scorer, sophomore forward Mario Mastrangelo, doesn’t even start.
Mastrangelo has come off the bench to score 10 goals this season while rotating with his twin brother, Nicco, and senior Ross Lynam up top.
“Honest to God, I’m not making this up, it’s tough to pick out one player,” Dyer said. “Connor Daley and D.J. Jaap have marked people out of games. Then in the midfield, Max Lindsay, Christian Petrozza and Sean Baxendale have done a great job not just defending but going forward. Ross Lynam has a couple of assists and has been close a couple of times. I think Mario has benefitted from some good players getting him the ball in good position.
And this comes after Dyer finished praising his four senior captains: defenders Bryan Hall and Mark Enscoe, as well as midfielders Matt Girouard and Cale Bollman. The team-wide contributions have lifted Peters Township to a 5-0-2 record in Section 5-AAA. The Indians are 8-1-2 overall after Tuesday night’s 3-0 win over Ambridge.
“We’re pretty happy with the results,” Dyer said.
Asked specifically about why Mastrangelo has been such a dangerous offensive threat, Dyer pointed to his ability as a finisher – which, it should be noted, does not necessarily mean his ability as a scorer.
To Dyer, finishing means knowing when to go soft or when to add speed as opposed to’having a whole bunch of moves or a powerful leg. “When he gets the ball he doesn’t always look to kick it as hard as he can; he looks to pick out where the goalie is and picks his spot on the net,” Dyer said. “I think that he’s benefitted from that, and that’s something we’re trying to teach the rest of the kids.”
Mastrangelo, of course, would rather start. But he also doesn’t mind being the team’s spark off the bench.
“We have a lot of talent at Peters, and it’s hard to get a starting spot at every position, not just striker,” Mastrangelo said. Peters opened the season with four straight wins, beating two out-of-town teams, Ambridge and Moon by a combined score of 15-1.
The Indians’ dropped a 2-1 decision to Bethel Park Sept. 10 and played Chartiers Valley to a 2-2 tie three days later. Wins over Mt. Lebanon and Brashear followed, and Peters Township knocked off rival Canon McMillan, 1-0, Sept. 20 behind a goal from Bryan Hall.
“That’s such a tough game, at their place,”” Dyer said of the Canon Mac win. “They’re such an emotional team to play against, and they have skill on top of that.”
Two nights later, Peters rallied from a 2-0 deficit at halftime to tie Upper St. Clair in a matchup of Section 5-AAA heavyweights behind second-half goals from Mastrangelo and senior defender Mark Enscoe, who scored on a penalty kick with three minutes left in regulation.
“Those two games in the span of three days is physically and mentally brutal on a team,” Dyer said. “To rise to that level twice is just so tough. I think there’s a better belief in ourselves and our system right now, both the coaches and the players.”
Max O’Hare and Neil Harrison have traded time in goal, allowing less than a goal per game between them.
“A different kid is stepping up every game or a couple different kids,” Dyer said. “They’ve all been consistent performers, but they’ve also taken a turn doing some different things. It’s an unselfish team, which is very nice to have.”