Eleanor Bailey | The Almanac
After Peters Township accepted the 2014 PIAA Class AAA boys’ soccer trophy, the players placed the piece of hardwood on the field at Hersheypark Stadium. With locked arms, they formed an unbreakable link and circled clockwise then counterclockwise around their prize for defeating Great Valley, 2-1. The celebration summarized the club’s camaraderie.
“Family,” said head coach Bobby Dyer. “That’s the word I would use to describe this group. They are a family.
“I don’t know if I have ever been part of a team that has been as together as they are,” continued Dyer, who competed at Pitt and also played on district and state championship clubs at Peters Township, his alma maters. “They complement each other so well.”
Dyer added quickly that the Tribe’s kinship was equally followed and supported by ‘hard work.’ The school’s fourth state championship came at the cost of labor.
“The performance,” Dyer noted of the PIAA final, “was the culmination of a lot of hard work. It drove these kids for the last three months as a unit and as a family. It’s fitting that they should go out as champions.”
Thirteen certainly do as the squad consisted of that many seniors, including Nicco and Mario Mastrangelo. After a scoreless first half, the twins orchestrated an offensive attack that resulted in two goals less than five minutes apart. Nicco fired in the first tally while Mario followed with the second score with 18:40 to play. Each assisted the other.
“They complement each other so well,” Dyer said of the seniors. “They would be the first to tell you that they would not get their goals without the other. They would also say it’s because of their teammates.”
Indeed, Mario’s tally generated from passes forward from Ryan Ponchione to Rylen Faloni, ahead to Nicco, who dished to his brother.
“The goal was just the end result. No doubt goals are important and finishing is the hard part,” Dyer said, “but obviously it took a lot of hard work to make the goal happen.”
Though Mike Carrigan prevented Josh Deyarmin and the Peters Township defense from recording its 20th shutout of the season. The Indians allowed just six goals in all, half of them to rival Upper St. Clair in both Section 5 losses.
“Josh was fantastic,” said Dyer of his senior keeper. “To not give up a shot in many games and only allow that many goals is a tribute also to the guys in front of him.”
Jake Valley swept the area clear of attackers in front of the net. Kelson Marisa, Sean Harrison and Matthew Massucci complemented the senior.
“We don’t win without Jake,” Dyer said emphatically. “He covers a lot of territory and we run a system that plays man-to-man.”
In the midfield, the Indians have benefited from the play of Ryan Ponchione, Rylen Faloni and Dylan Weyers. All are senior midfielders.
“Ryan sacrificed a lot of his offensive statistics to assist the team. He did a tremendous job,” said Dyer. “Dylan also had great year. No one knows him because they don’t notice the stops he makes before the balls get to the back. And, Rylen, he’s intense in the midfield.”
Wes Ward also provided quality play in the middle and Jonathan Sion aided the offense as a striker for the Indians while Harrison helped produce scoring opportunities with his throw-ins.
Other seniors on the club included: Collin Gurtner, Matthew Graham and Luke Nissly.
Members of the state championship squad also included: Justin Gamble, Philip Davis, Derek Deyarmin, Matthew Stuck, Logan Brinsky, Tyler Ulrich, Tom O’Hare, Jacob Dumas, Chase Sirera, Rex Heuler, Brady Pike, Andrew Parker, Bryce Gabelhart, Evan Carrington, Bennett Faloni and Luke Kelly.
Peters Township finished the season 22-2 overall while the Patriots ended the year at 19-6-2 overall. Plus, the title marked the fourth state banner for the Indians in school history and first since 2007 when they defeated Downingtown West, 2-1, in overtime. Peters Township won back-to-back titles in 1988 and 1989. The Indians also competed in the 1998 and 2008 finals.
Additionally, Dyer pointed out that it has been 10 years since a WPIAL team won both the district and PIAA state championship. Upper St. Clair did so in 2004. “That was a fantastic team,” Dyer said of the Panthers. Pointing to the difficulty of such a task he added, “what my guys did is quite an achievement. I am proud of this team and what they have accomplished together as a family.”