Junior striker Mario Mastrangelo fired a shot past Upper St. Clair goalie Will Petley with 16:28 left in the second half to lift Peters Township to a 1-0 victory against Upper St. Clair in the Class AAA boys soccer championship game Friday night at Highmark Stadium.
Peters Township improved to 17-3-2, while the loss was the first for the 19-1-1 Panthers. In the regular season, Upper St. Clair won by scores of 4-3 and 6-1 against their Section 5-AAA rivals.
"It feels fantastic [to be a champion]," said Mastrangelo, who has three goals in the playoffs to go with 15 in the regular season. "We put in a lot of hard work, and it paid off in the end."
Mastrangelo said sophomore striker Bennett Faloni fed him the ball t he put in the far side.
Peters Township coach Bob Dyer said the Indians were trying to find a way to get past the Panthers defense which -- like theirs -- had been tight all night.
"We'd been trying to get some breaks and some little balls through so we get into their backs," he said. "We started to break it down toward the middle of the second half. We got a couple of chances, [and the goal] was one of them. [Faloni] got him the ball, and Mario finished it."
The game also showcased the abilities of both goalies: Petley and Peters Township's Max O'Hare.
"To win a championship game, the goalie has to make some saves that he probably shouldn't," Dyer said.
In the second half, for example, O'Hare deflected two hard drives by the Panthers above the goal, and he saved a third key shot when the Panthers' Troye Kiernan tried a header with 11 minutes left.
"They really pushed it toward the end, and [the win] was a huge team effort. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way," said O'Hare.
O'Hare expected the Panthers to work hard to the end, but knew his teammates would, too.
"They will, but I'm comfortable that my teammates would head the ball out," he said.
Peters Township will face Section 5 rival Canon-McMillan in the first round of the PIAA playoffs while Upper St. Clair will face District 10 champion Erie McDowell.