Lance Lysowski | Observer Reporter
Ever since Peters Township’s boys soccer team dropped a 2-1 game Oct. 2 to Upper St. Clair, the Indians wanted a crack at the Panthers in the WPIAL Class AAA title game.
After controlling play for 80 minutes Monday night against Central Catholic, Peters Township will get its wish.
Nicco Mastrangelo and Rylen Faloni scored to lift the Indians to a 2-0 victory in the semifinals at West Allegheny High School.
Peters Township (17-2) will try to defend its WPIAL championship Friday or Saturday at Highmark Stadium in the South Side of Pittsburgh – dates and start times will be determined today – and Central Catholic (19-2) will play Butler in the consolation game Wednesday.
“This is what we play for,” Faloni said. “This is what we’ve been practicing for since we were little kids.”
Facing a team that has allowed just five goals entering Monday, the Indians used a physical game to test Central Catholic’s defenders. After both teams traded scoring chances, Peters Township struck first in the 25th minute when senior midfielder Ryan Ponchione’s low shot on goal was deflected back to senior striker Mario Mastrangelo.
Mastrangelo’s rebound shot was deflected past the goalkeeper by his brother, Nicco, for a 1-0 lead.
“Getting that early goal gave us the drive to keep pressing,” Nicco Mastrangelo said. “We kept pressing and that forces them into mistakes. It paid off.”
Both teams played an unusually physical game with few fouls being called. While Central Catholic’s top scorer, forward Ryan Sproule, could not find room to make plays, the Mastrangelo twins created several opportunities on the other end.
After several close calls to begin the second half, Nicco Mastrangelo took a lead pass in the midfield and dribbled around a defender. Faloni found space where he corralled the pass and shot it past the keeper for the 2-0 lead in the 61st minute.
“After we got the first goal, we knew they’d come out strong so we couldn’t let down,” Faloni said. “It did a lot for our confidence though.”
Peters Township created several chances that missed the mark by inches.
“We didn’t finish well at all tonight,” Peters Township head coach Bob Dyer said. “They played well through the midfield and I don’t think we did a good enough job combatting that.”
The Indians took over from there by controlling the play on the back end. The victory sets up a rematch with defending state champion Upper St. Clair (18-0-1), which has not lost a game since last year’s WPIAL championship against Peters Township.
“It’s the third round of a fight,” Dyer said. “We got knocked down, but we’re not dead.”
In the two meetings during the regular season, the Indians lost two one-goal games that came down to the final seconds. With a large crowd expected at Highmark Stadium, the scene should be similar to last year’s when a late goal gave Peters Township the gold medal.
“Another chance is what we wanted and I think we can make something special out of it,” Faloni said.