Lance Lysowski | Observer Reporter
The script was written when Peters Township’s boys soccer team opened the season with a victory over Sewickley Academy. When the Indians grabbed an early lead, the entire team did an archer’s pose – imitating the motion of pulling back a bow – to celebrate the goal.
The plan was to not use the celebration again until it truly counted.
The Indians saved their final performance for the right time.
Peters Township celebrated its first goal in that fashion then held off a late rally by Great Valley in a 2-1 victory to win the PIAA Class AAA title at Hersheypark Stadium Saturday night.
It is the fourth state championship in the program’s history and the first since 2007 for the Indians, who became the fourth WPIAL team to win the PIAA Class AAA title in the past five years.
The Indians completed the feat in style.
“I’m so happy with them and how they’ve battled through this whole season,” Peters Township head coach Bob Dyer said of his players. “They battled at the end of the season, kept getting better and kept learning. Even at our last practices, they aren’t just sitting there and going over things. They were learning, and they always want to get better.”
The Indians (21-2) failed to score a first-half goal for the first time in the state tournament despite holding a 6-1 shot advantage at the break. The two teams traded chances on set pieces before senior striker Nicco Mastrangelo capitalized on a mistake by Great Valley (19-6-2) in the 56th minute.
Senior striker Mario Mastrangelo created a turnover at midfield and lofted a deep ball toward Nicco Mastrangelo, who was standing 10 yards from the net. A Great Valley defender missed the header attempt, and Nicco Mastrangelo buried a shot to the far post for a 1-0 lead.
After the goal, the Indians’ players, including senior goalkeeper Josh Deyarmin, did the archer’s pose in front of a raucous Peters Township crowd.
“We planned that one at the beginning of the season,” senior midfielder Rylen Faloni said. “We wanted to wait to do it again.”
Five minutes later, Mario Mastrangelo gave the Indians another reason to celebrate. Nicco Mastrangelo sprinted up the sideline and drew two defenders. Nicco Mastrangelo connected with his brother in the slot and the shot snuck into the far post for the 2-0 lead.
“They work really hard. They have wheels up front,” Faloni said. “If you play it to them, they hunt it down.”
The Patriots quickly answered when senior striker Mike Carrigan’s shot off a rebound went over Deyarmin’s head to draw the score to 2-1. Great Valley used its skill up top to pressure the Indians and created chances with precise passing through the midfield. While Great Valley had two chances off set pieces in the final 15 minutes, Peters Township maintained control as it has throughout the playoffs and did not allow a shot.
“They are a very good team that’s very athletic, very aggressive and they disrupt what you try to do,” Great Valley head coach Dave Moffett said. “We are known as a team that possesses the ball, but our time on the ball was so small because of what they were doing.”
Peters Township earned chances early by forming a counter attack when the Patriots’ forwards pressed to take the lead. Mario Mastrangelo nearly sored seven minutes into the game, but his shot from 10 yards out was stopped. In a game that grew physical as it progressed, the opening minutes displayed the skill the two teams used to reach the title game.
In the end, as has been the case all season for the Indians, capitalizing on mistakes and not allowing opposing forwards room for high percentage shots made the difference.
The team’s 13 seniors polished off their respective careers with two WPIAL titals and a state championship.
“It’s phenomenal. It’s the best experience of my life,” Nicco Mastrangelo said. “This is a great way to end it.”