O’Hare saves day as PT claims WPIAL soccer titlePublished Nov 4, 2013 at 12:19 pm (Updated Nov 4, 2013 at 12:19 pm)
Peters Township goalie Max O'Hare battles for the ball against Adam Heil, Troye Kiernan (No. 10) and Anthony Pezzone (No. 16) as his teammates Ryan Ponchione (No. 10) and Sean Harrison (No. 18) back up the play. The Indians defeated USC, 1-0, in the WPIAL Class AAA boys' final.
In a shutout, the glory goes to the goalie. But, Max O’Hare was quick to point out that Peters Township’s 1-0 victory against nationally-ranked Upper St. Clair in the WPIAL Class AAA soccer championship game at Highmark Stadium, was not all his doing.
“It was a huge team effort,” he said.
He added, “I am only as strong as my defenders. If they keep the harder shots out, it’s my job to keep the rest away.”
While sweeper Maxwell Lindsay along with defenders Kelson Marissa, Sean Harrison, Ryan Ponchione and Rylen Faloni did their part, deflecting attempts toward the outside of the field with their box formation defense, O’Hare made the stops to assure the Indians’ their eighth district title in school history.
O’Hare not only posted his eighth shutout of the season, fourth in the playoffs, he was the first goalkeeper this season to hold USC, a team with more than 100 goals, scoreless. He was credited with 11 saves, four in the first half and seven in the second.
“To win a championship,” said head coach Bobby Dyer. “A goalkeeper knows that he has to save what shots he can and a couple that he shouldn’t.”
While O’Hare made many acrobatic and critical stops, none was as important as the save he made on Joe Bell in the 63rd minute of action. He dove to his left and deflected the shot with his left hand.
“I read the shot and I react,” he said. “It comes from years of training and experience.”
But, O’Hare added, “I wouldn’t have done it with any different people. I’m confident with every single person in my eighteen.”
O’Hare is also confident his teammates can score within an opponent’s 18, even if the adversary is USC. While winning the Section 5 banner and compiling a 19-0-1 record prior to the defeat, the Panthers’ defense, anchored by goalie Will Petley, had registered 10 shutouts.
Yet, with 16:28 to play, Mario Mastrangelo outran two USC defenders and deposited the game-winning goal, from 15 yards out, inside the far post of the net. Sophomore Bennet Faloni fed Mastrangelo the pass that yielded his third goal of the playoffs and 18th of the season.
USC, however, refused to relent. The Panthers stormed back but O’Hare and the PT defense did not budge.
“When we scored the goal,” O’Hare said, “I knew we had to step up our game. We had to let nothing get by us.
O’Hare noted Lindsay’s support. Of the defensive sweeper, O’Hare said, “He controls all I do. We rely on each other so that nothing gets by us. “And,” he continued. “After each save, you have to settle yourself down and be ready for the next play.”
PT’s improved defensive play—the Indians had lost to USC, 6-1, in the Section 5 finale—drew the praise of Uwe Schneider. The Panthers’ head coach remarked, “With the amount of chances we had, we could have won two games but O’Hare was the difference. He won the game for them.”
Both teams will play another game before perhaps meeting again. In the opening round of the PIAA tournament, last night, PT (17-3-2) battled Canon-McMillan (17-3-2), another Section 5 rival, while USC (19-1-1) traveled to Erie to face McDowell, the District 10 champion. Last year, the Panthers recovered from their upset loss in the WPIAL finals to go on to claim the state championship