Joseph Smeltzer | Observer Reporter
Visions of chocolate bars danced in the heads of Peters Township’s boys soccer players in Tuesday night’s November chill.
But the things every varsity player in Pennsylvania dreams of – going to Hershey, winning the big game, being coroneted with first-place medals around their necks, the chance to hold the championship trophy and take a bite of a mammoth sweet for which the town is known.
Those dreams didn’t come into fruition for the Indians, and for 15 seniors, waiting ‘till next year won’t be an option at the high school level.
Once again, Seneca Valley was there to ruin it.
The Raiders, who wrecked Peters Township’s chance of winning a WPIAL championship last season – as well as any state title aspirations, since only district champions went to the PIAA tournament in 2020 – beat the Indians 3-1 in a title game rematch Nov. 6.
After beating State College and Central Dauphin, Peters got another crack at Seneca Valley, with two things at stake
- A place in the state championship game.
Although this game was a closer, with the deciding strike not coming until the 74th minute, the result and subsequent silence was the same for Peters Township.
The Indians lost, 2-1, and another excellent season ended with no new first-place trophies to add to the trophy cabinet.
Coach Bobby Dyer aches for his seniors.
“I know it hurts the coaching staff for the kids, because they set such a high bar for our program,” Dyer said. “They wanted to make their mark on it, and they did, but they really wanted to put another title in the trophy case. So that’s really … it hurts.”
“It’s a terrible way to go,” senior Andrew Massucci said. “But we had a great run. Can’t do much about it.”
Seneca Valley struck first in the 15th minute when a free kick by Nathan Prex beat PT goalkeeper Nicholas Melograne to put the Raiders ahead 1-0.
That’s how it stayed into halftime and for the first 15 minutes of the second half.
In the 55th minute, Massucci – who is known for scoring big goals, such as the winners in both this year’s and last year’s WPIAL semifinals – tied the score at 1-1.
This time, however, his heroics would come in a loss.
With 6:19 to play, Seneca Valley’s Maxwell Marcotte scored the winner. Now, the Raiders are one win away from repeating. The Raiders will play Conestoga on Friday evening, while the Indians will either begin to think about next season or about college.
“You have two teams that are decided by small margins, and they capitalized on their opportunity and we unfortunately missed our opportunity is what it comes down to,” Dyer said. “They’re a very good team and I think we’re a very good team.”
PT was a very good team. It weathered the storms, such as Cole Woodward’s injury in the semifinal win over North Allegheny that led to the senior defender leaving in an ambulance and the WPIAL title loss, to win two state playoff games and almost get to play for the ultimate prize for Pennsylvania high school soccer.
“For this team at Peters to come back after losing in the WPIAL finals and winning two very big state games and getting to the final four, I think that speaks really highly of the kids,” Dyer said.
With a strong junior class set to come back, Peters will look to compete again in 2022. For 2021’s seniors, however, the chapter is closed. For Dyer, his kids made the most of their varsity soccer experience.
“They made practice fun every day,” he said. “It’s literally a grind when you go this far. When you think about it, teams that didn’t make the playoffs, for them its been over a month, right? So that’s another month of practices and hard work. Some really hard games, and they made it fun to come to practice. I loved their compete level.
Massucci says he’ll likely play soccer at the college level. While games and goals and friends on the pitch still ahead, however, he’ll no longer get to play with people he grew up with. What he’ll miss most, he said, are, “the boys, my friends, everything about it.”
All good things must come to an end.
“It’s depressing,” he said. “I’ll be thinking about it for a while, but you move on.”