Peters Township prepared for battle in Section 5 soccer
Bob Dyer summed up best how soccer teams in Section 5 feel about each other.
“There’s a lot of respect there,” said the Peters Township field general. “We respect the teams we play, but there is not a lot of love there.”
While he would not use the word “war” to describe the action between clubs such as Canon-McMillan and Upper St. Clair, even Moon and Chartiers Valley, Dyer did note a sense of serious conflict when the rivals meet on the pitch. “Every game is a battle,” he said.
And the battles commence at 8 p.m. Sept. 4 when the Indians host Canon-McMillan. The Indians are the defending WPIAL Class AAA champions while the Big Macs are one season removed from that title. Additionally, Peters hosts Chartiers Valley Sept. 11 before traveling Sept. 18 to Upper St. Clair, which won back-to-back PIAA state titles in 2012 and 2013. Hence, survival is the operative word for the Indians as they vie for one of the three available playoff positions.
“The goal of our program every year is section, WPIAL and PIAA,” said Dyer, who has been associated with all three of Peters Township’s state championships and many of the eight district crowns as a player or a coach.
“But, making sure we make the playoffs,” he continued. “That comes first. In our section, making the playoffs is no easy task. Just getting out of this section and into the playoffs is never easy and you have to stay healthy.”
The flipside of the competitive conference is how prepared the teams are for the postseason. “Because of the level of competition, three quality teams come from this section. Look at the WPIAL final four the past few years, three of the teams have been from Section 5,” continued Dyer. “That’s no strange coincidence. That’s a testament to the level we play.”
Because of experience, the Indians should be even better this fall than they were in 2013, when they finished 18-4-2 overall and lost to USC in the quarterfinals of the PIAA tournament.
The Indians lost three starters from last year’s team, including goalkeeper Max O’Hare. The hero of last year’s district final, shutting out USC, 1-0, is playing at Thiel College. Senior Josh Deyarmin, who helped share in last year’s 11 shutouts, junior Phil Davis and sophomore Justin Gamble will fill the vacancy in the nets.
“One day, one is better than the other,” Dyer said. “We are rotating them right now. Sure, we would like to have it settled, but that’s not terrible if it’s not because the competition pushes them to get better and that benefits the team.”
The Indians are settled on five captains and they will benefit from the leadership provided by Mario and Nicco Mastrangelo, Ryan Ponchione, Dylan Weyers and Rylen Faloni. “With that core group coming back, we expect to be very competitive,” Dyer said.
The Mastrangelos were a powerful 1-2 punch for Peters. Mario produced 20 goals and pitched in four assists. Nicco tallied 18 goals and dished up seven assists. Dyer expects the seniors to be among the Top 10 scores in Class AAA in scoring even though they play in Section 5.
“To be up there is tough to do because ours is like no other section in the league,” Dyer reiterated regarding the division. “That level does not produce a lot of high-scoring games. Generally our games are 1-0 or 2-0 and in battles against lesser opponents where we can score a lot of goals we may not want them in there.”
Dyer is delighted to also have Matt Massucci, Kelson Marisa, Sean Harrison and Jake Valley in there, too. While Valley, a senior, has moved back to the township after a stint in California, Massucci, Marisa and Harrison are all returning starters on defense.
“All are good players,” Dyer said of his veterans. “We are moving people around a lot and seeing where people fit in and make sure that we are ready for Canon-Mac. No matter who we start in goal, on defense, we have to limit the other team’s chances.”
Because of Brady Pike, Wes Ward, Jon Sion and Rex Heuler, the Indians chances of an prolonged postseason are pronounced. “They all will help us,” Dyer said. “I expect them to be impact players.”
The Indians opened the season this past weekend. They battled Sewickley Academy and then visited Mt. Lebanon last night in preparation for the duel with Canon-Mac.