Dave Whipkey | Observer Reporter
Peters Township boys soccer coach Bob Dyer felt regardless of seeding, his Indians would have a tough first-round playoff test at home against Pittsburgh Central Catholic.
That thought became reality Saturday afternoon as 80 minutes of play and much of two overtimes did not produce a result. But Peters Township persevered and overcame to pick up a 1-0 win in the opening round of the Class AAAA playoff win.
Peters Township moves on to the second round Wednesday at a site and time to face North Allegheny, a 2-1 winner over Fox Chapel Saturday.
The Indians won it when Kyle McFerran took a free kick following a Vikings penalty at the 8:39 mark of the second overtime. His kick hit the crossbar and bounced around in the box. Rex Heuler knocked it in for the game winner, sending the Indians on to the next round.
“Here’s the deal, after that long of play, you’re going to have a goal go in like that,” Dyer said. “It’s not going to be creative. Kyle sent it in and Rex knocked it home.”
It was the second time the two met this season. The first contest took place Sept. 3 also at Peters Township. It ended in a 1-1 draw.
Saturday’s game was contested in colder and more blustery conditions as the wind played havoc with balls struck high into the air.
“No doubt the weather affected the game,” Dyer said. “The ball kept carrying in the wind and made it hard to advance.”
When Dyer found out the third-seeded Indians drew the 14th seeded Vikings, he knew this game would go much like the season opener.
“That’s Central Catholic, they have a great program and tradition,” he added. “We knew we’d have our hands full.”
Central Catholic’s Matt Olon had two chances to give the Vikings a late lead in the second half. His first shot from 25 yards out slid just wide of the goal at the 23-minute mark. Peters Township goaltender Justin Gamble came up with a gigantic save of an Olon blast two minutes later.
A Peters Township free kick off a penalty gave the hosts a chance three minutes later. Bryce Gabelhart sent it into the goal area, but Vikings netminder Andres Vasquez rejected the offering.
Gamble recorded his biggest save when he leaped and deflected a Will Sproule shot over the crossbar at the 27 minute mark.
Another scramble in the Vikings’ end produced a scoring opportunity for the Indians at the 30 minute mark. Scott Harrison sent a bending shot towards the net, unfortunately for him, it bent too much as it hooked just right of the goal post.
Harrison’s shot would serve as the last best scoring chance in regulation.
The Indians controlled play in the first half as they possessed the ball in the Vikings’ end of the pitch the majority of the time.
Peters Township earned three corner kicks in the half but did not generate any real threats to score on Vasquez.
Tyler Opferman had the best chance to put the Indians in the lead when he found the ball to the right of Vasquez. The junior forward fired a shot towards the net but was denied by Vasquez at the 34 minute mark of the half.
Twenty minutes earlier, Logan Brinsky had an open net off a scramble in the box but he pushed it wide left of Vasquez.
The Vikings best chance to get on the scoreboard in the first half occurred at the 22 minute mark of the half when Larry Cersosimo headed a Sproule feed from the midfield. Gamble was there for the save.
“Justin was unbelievable for us all year,” Dyer added. “We knew he’d be big for us again.”