Lance Lysowski | Observer Reporter
Peters Township’s boys soccer team has undergone roster turnover this season because of injuries, but there continues to be one constant on the roster: the Mastrangelo brothers leading the Indians’ offense. The junior forwards, Nicco and Mario, have been a mainstay in the starting lineup for Peters Township, helping to ease the loss of crucial players.
The Mastrangelo brothers led Peters Township to a 3-0 victory over North Allegheny Monday night to advance to the second round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
“Having the experience that we have as a program, we talked about being at every ball, one at a time,” Peters Township head coach Bob Dyer said. “Not forfeiting a ball and you have to be at every ball like it’s the last. We can’t let one opportunity go by, because that may be the one that decides the game.”
After a tough 6-1 loss at home Oct. 10 to rival Upper St. Clair, the Indians received a tough matchup in the first round against a Tigers’ team featuring a roster of 10 seniors and prolific scoring threats at forward. The Indians improved their home record to 8-1-1 and Nicco started the night off.
Nicco received a pass 25 yards from the net, gained his footing and deked around a defender before firing a shot past Tigers junior goalkeeper Luke Nolan to give Peters Township an early 1-0 lead. Nicco had two more shots on goal in the first half for the Indians (14-3-2), while not shying away from physical play.
“We have so much chemistry together,” Nico said of playing with his brother, Mario. “We know where everyone is going, we move off the ball and we just know where each other is going to be.”
North Allegheny (12-6) did not lack scoring opportunities in the first half. With 18 minutes remaining, Tigers senior midfielder Peter Tobias dribbled past an Indians defender from 10 yards out, and a large group of players gathered in front of the net while the ball sat unattended for several seconds, but North Allegheny was not able to capitalize. A similar situation happened 10 minutes later, but Peters Township senior goalkeeper Max O’Hare smothered the loose ball to maintain the 1-0 lead into halftime.
“I’m impressed with the resiliency of the kids,” Dyer said. “I just like our competitiveness. Whatever happens, the next day, we come in with a good attitude in practice.”
The second half was filled with physical play as both teams attempted to stifle advances by the opposing offense. The move backfired for the Tigers in the second half. North Allegheny junior defender Steve Binning fouled Mario Mastrangelo with 25 minutes remaining in the game to set up a free kick.
While Mario did not score on the attempt, his brother took advantage of the Indians having possession in the Tigers’ end. Nicco set up sophomore midfielder Matthew Massucci in front of the net for the 2-0 lead. Six minutes later, an errant pass by Peters Township sped toward the North Allegheny net. The ball bounced off the hands of Nolan, sneaking behind the keeper. Mario avoided tripping over Nolan and tapped it in for the 3-0 lead.
The Indians secured their seventh shutout of the season and will face Seneca Valley Thursday in the second round of the playoffs. Peters Township has the advantage of playing in arguably the toughest section, 5-AAA. At least one Section 5-AAA team has reached the WPIAL finals for 13 consecutive years, winning six times.
“We feel that our section is just a step above,” senior defender Max Lindsay said. “With Canon-Mac and St. Clair in here, it’s preparation for the playoffs. It’s like a playoff game every time we play them.”