Lance Lysowski | Observer Reporter
There is a running joke among the Peters Township boys soccer players about which of the Mastrangelo twins gets to drive home from practice each day.
How do the Indians’ two senior strikers decide?
If it is based on goals in the last game, Mario will have that privilege following Thursday’s practice as Peters Township prepares for its first trip to Hershey since 2008.
Mastrangelo scored three goals for the Indians en route to a 3-0 victory over Lower Dauphin in the PIAA Class AAA semifinals Tuesday night at Mansion Park.
Peters Township (21-2) will face Great Valley (19-5-2) Saturday at 6:30 p.m. for the state championship. Lower Dauphin’s season ends with a 18-6-1 record.
“This is phenomenal,” Mario Mastrangelo said. “The first goal was huge because we knew if we got one they would be in trouble. We went all out on the attack after that.”
Mastrangelo gave the Indians the 1-0 lead in the 31st minute. The Falcons were marking the Indians’ two strikers with defenders, but allowed them space to maneuver.
Nicco Mastrangelo gathered a loose ball within the six-yard box and passed it back to senior defender Sean Harrison, who passed to Mario. The right-footed striker turned his back to a defender holding onto his arm and turned around to fire a shot into the top-right corner of the net.
He added his second goal in the 63rd minute when senior midfielder Rylen Faloni found him with a cross pass and Mastrangelo finished for the 2-0 lead. Less than two minutes later, senior defender Jake Valley took a free kick that went into a crowd of players in front of the net.
Mario struck the ball with his head for the 3-0 lead and clinched the program’s third trip to Hershey in the past eight years. Mastrangelo has six goals in three state playoff games.
“We’re all a huge family,” Mastrangelo said. “That’s the main reason why we are still playing.”
Lower Dauphin, which defeated Upper St. Clair in the first round of the state playoffs, attempted to combat the Indians by using a crowded midfield and two marking backs to follow the Mastrangelos.
The recipe to defeat that was simple for the two-time defending WPIAL Class AAA champions.
“We noticed playing balls in and cross passes would open space, so we did that as much as possible,” Mastrangelo said.
The Falcons attempted to pressure the two forwards but did not account for the skill of Peters Township’s midfielders, Faloni, Matt Massucci, Ryan Ponchione, Dylan Weyers and Wes Ward. The players pressured Lower Dauphin with shots on net and passes over the heads of defenders to create scoring chances.
“The first goal was enormous, but the second was just as big,” Peters Township head coach Bob Dyer said. “That second goal really took the wind out of their attack. All of our midfielders got back quickly, our defense limited their chances and (Josh Deyarmin) did a great job coming out of the net.”
By attempting to combat Peters Township’s attack, Lower Dauphin sacrificed its offense, which is led by Jackson Becher and Nick Sincavage. The Falcons did not record a shot on goal and had just three corner kicks. Peters Township had 15 shots on Falcons goalkeeper Isaiah Pettis and had five corners.
The effort lifted the Indians, who have allowed just one goal in seven games this postseason, into the state title game. Dyer’s daughter had been asking him when the family would finally make the trip to Hershey again.
“We couldn’t be happier with this result,” Dyer said with a large smile. “It is great to see these kids accomplish something like this. No one is happier than my daughter right now. Cal, you’re finally going to Chocolate World.”