Luke Campbell | Observer-Reporter
Rebuild will never be a word associated with the Peters Township High School boys’ soccer program.
Not under head coach Bobby Dyer.
“The word rebuild really aggravates me,” Dyer said. “It’s a different year and we are going to go after it with the same set of goals, winning the section, winning the WPIAL championship and winning state. We are going to do everything we can to get that. A rebuilding year is a year you are throwing away. That is in no way happening here and we will never come to that spot.”
It’s never “rebuild” for Peters Township because it’s always been “reload.”
Since 2003, the Indians have only had two seasons where they lost three section games. They have reached double digits in wins in all of those seasons, including last year’s 19-2-1 record before losing in the state semifinal on penalty kicks against District 3 Hempfield.
Peters Township had a lineup filled with talent. Bryce Gabelhart, Luke Kelly, Matt Stuck and Logan Brinsky were named first-team all-conference selections. Gabelhart and Kelly also were on the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association All-State Team.
All four, along with nine other seniors, have since graduated.
“On top of all the accolades the kids got and how the season went on the field, off the field was just as much fun,” Dyer said. “The family atmosphere that was created was fantastic. The biggest thing was how they brought the sophomores and juniors into it.”
The four players returning who saw a considerable amount of playing time last year are forwards/midfielders Brian Bruzdewicz, Nate Lopus and Anthony Kita, along with defender Christian Verner.
“Soccer is unique because kids go off and play with their club teams, but I think we have some good leadership taking hold,” said Dyer. “I don’t know if (our team) is inexperienced because a lot of them have had varsity time. But as a unit they are. There is a learning curve. You take for granted having several starters coming back every year.”
The challenge for the Indians is where to look for goal scoring, a strength of last year’s team. In 10 section matches – they had a perfect record to win Section 2-AAAA – the Indians scored 31 goals. Their attack continued throughout their postseason run, scoring 17 goals in seven contests.
Gabelhart scored 10 goals and had 15 assists for PT in 2017.
“I think getting goals will be our hardest part,” Dyer said. “I don’t think we took for granted what we had up front last year.”
And PT’s roster is already being tested even before playing its opening game of the season. An ambulance was required in three of their first five days of practice. Derek Nissly and Luke Holmes suffered season-ending injuries.
The Indians open the regular season with back-to-back matches this weekend. PT plays Franklin Regional at 3:30 p.m., Friday, then hosts Penn-Trafford at 4 p.m., Saturday.
“I don’t think any team can be successful when the coaches are leaders,” Dyer said. “We will have to wait to see what happens.”