Eleanor Bailey | Observer Reporter
The Peters Township men’s soccer club is reaching for the stars this season.
With a wealth of experience and depth, the Indians anticipate challenging for their 10th WPIAL title and competing in their seventh state final this November.
“This team hopes to make it’s mark in this program’s history, which is a pretty high bar,” said PT head coach Bobby Dyer. “Either by adding to our nine WPIAL championships or putting a star on our uniform, which indicates state championships.”
Seven years ago, in 2014, the Indians pulled off that double-double. After winning a district title, they brought home PIAA gold for the fourth time in school history.
With a 29-player roster that includes seven returning full-time starters, the Indians are primed to improve upon last year’s 13-2-1 mark, which included a section title, and avenge their overtime loss in the WPIAL Class 4A final.
After posting back-to-back exhibition wins against Central Catholic, 3-0, and Franklin Regional, 3-1, the Indians opened Section 2 action last night at Baldwin. Peters Township’s home section opener is Thursday at 7:45 p.m. against Brashear.
Nico Melograne excelled in the nets in recording the shutout against the Vikings. Melograne was backed by the defensive efforts of Joe Tornari, Dylan Shaw, Cole Woodward and Roman Milani.
Offensively, Alex Grim and Anthony Schullek had two-goal performances against the Vikings and Panthers respectively. Each has three goals after the first two contests. Alex Fielding, Mason Lewis and Andrew Massucci were credited with assists.
Massucci is PT’s most-renowned player. Last fall, he was named WPIAL Player of The Year in Class 4A boys soccer. He also garnered all-section, all-district and all-state accolades, including Player of the Year. Massucci scored 19 goals last season.
Dyer said his expectations of Massucci this fall are simple.
“We hope that Andrew, like this team, can improve upon last season,” he said.
Massucci leads a strong and deep senior class that also includes all-section midfielder Austin Marmol along with Melograne, Grim, Woodward, Tornari, Schullek, Shaw and Aidan Martik, all of whom started last season. Additionally, Brady Sorrell, Joe Heuler, Alex Fielding, Alec Colombari, Nicholas Andreano and PJ Somers are seniors providing leadership for the Indians.
“We return numerous players that started games and contributed for us last season and while it’s always a difficult thing to fill vacancies, we expect these senior to lead this program back to the WPIAL championship game,” Dyer said. “We are as deep as we have ever been and we think that will be our strength this year.”
Dyer expects all his varsity players to contribute.
While he said there are too many players to mention the roster features 13 juniors, including Milani. The other juniors are Jacob Petro, Steven Suchko, Connor Hoye, Mason Lewis, Dom Paris, Nick Magee, Anthony Campos, Neven Barry, Matthew Milliken, Aiden Weiss, Cole Ternullo and Alexander Milliken. Lewis saw starting time last season.
Sophomores on the varsity roster include Blake Gabelhart, Tyler Sorrell, Nathan Froelich, Jake Beisheim, Adam Cendroski, Connor Heinsen, Matthew Pollock and Logan Sawich.
Newcomers include freshmen Markus Bizyak and Parker Weiss.
“Our depth and experience should be our strength,” said Dyer. “We hope to improve on our finishing and team defense.”
Dyer knows the task won’t be simple. Even emerging out of section play to compete in the WPIAL playoffs is a challenge against the likes of natural rivals like Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon, Bethel Park and Canon-McMillan.
“I believe,” Dyer said, “there are 10 state titles within our section. Canon-Mac and USC are always very good teams while Brashear, Lebo, Bethel and Baldwin all made big strides last year. There is no easy game in our section, especially with the quality of coaching each school processes.”