USC blanks PT, 3-0

Published Nov 11, 2013 at 1:48 pm (Updated Nov 11, 2013 at 1:48 pm)

When Upper St. Clair and Peters Township play soccer, intensity determines the outcome of the match. Such was the case in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals played last Saturday at Chartiers Valley.

One week after a spirited Peters Township club toppled them from the ranks of unbeaten teams in the WPIAL championship contest, the ardent Panthers avenged that 1-0 defeat. In posting a 3-0 shutout over the Indians, USC advanced to the state semifinals for the second season in a row.

“This was just like last year when we were beaten in the WPIAL and played the same team that beat us,” Uwe Schneider said referring to last year’s loss to Canon-McMillan that was avenged before winning the state title.

“I knew this was going to be a different game,” continued the USC head coach. “We were not as focused as we needed to be in (the WPIAL) final. Our guys were, you know, maybe things had come to easy for them for a while but now they are refocused. I’m glad we got Peters again and that we could right that loss.”

Lethargy, meanwhile, prevented Peters from mounting much of an attack against the Panthers.

For while USC managed an easy win over McDowell, 9-0, in its first-round PIAA playoff game, the Indians, saddled with facing, Canon-McMillan, edged the Big Macs, 2-1. The gamewinner by Mario Mastrangelo came with 58 seconds to play.

“We struggled to play with passion and heart,” PT head coach Bob Dyer said of the USC contest.

“This is the fourth brutal game in a row that we’ve had to play and it showed,” continued Dyer, referring to the WPIAL semifinal and finals as well as the PIAA playoff games against the same opponents from Section 5. “Our legs were heavy, we weren’t into the game, we didn’t play with the passion, and ultimately, that is my job as a coach to make sure that we’re ready. We weren’t there.”

As a result, PT finished its season as district champions for the eighth time in school history while USC went on to strive for the bigger prize. The Indians finished 18-4-2 on the season, with three of those losses to USC.

“I’m happy with the season, but it’s just unfortunate that you have to go those four games in succession in two weeks,” Dyer said. “That’s not our team. We were lifeless at times and that’s tough. The kids were exhausted.”

USC, on the other hand, played with emotion, particularly after Garrett Blake converted a rocket shot from 20 yards to cap the victory.

“I think it all worked out great,” Blake said. “(The WPIAL final) was a game everyone wanted to win, but this was a more important one. Losing then gave us extra motivation to win here. If we had won, things could have been different.”

Things could have been different were it not for penalty kicks. USC converted its shot; PT did not.

In the first half, Joel Hart was tripped inside the box. Troy Kiernan capitalized on the penalty kick, giving USC a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute.

In the 48th minute, USC committed the foul inside the box but Mario Mastrangelo’s penalty shot hit the fingertips of Panthers goalkeeper Will Petley and banged off the far post, preventing a tied match.

In the 57th minute, Doug Hapeman, off an assist from Blake, afforded the Panthers a 2-0 advantage.

As in the WPIAL final, USC mounted a strong attack but Max O’Hare came up with incredible saves on shots by Hart, who has scored 37 goals this season, as well as Dom Caruso and Joe Bell, among others. O’Hare was the only keeper to shutout the Panthers, who have scored more than 100 goals this season.

Of his team’s lack of offensive punch against Peters, Schneider said of the shots, “sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t.

“That’s just how it is. I knew that if we got a goal, we were going to win this game.”

And, the Pantehrs did. With the win, USC improved to 21-1-1 overall and moved to within a game of reaching the state championship match set for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 16 in Hershey.

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