South Xtra: Peters boys are section champs ...but only No. 2 on their own campus
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The Peters Township boys soccer program has won WPIAL Class AAA titles twice in the past four years, finished runner-up in the district last year and is one of the top teams in WPIAL Class AAA again this season.
Despite that success, the school's "other" soccer program often overshadows these Indians.
The Peters Township girls soccer team is the two-time defending Class AAA state champions and is ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL this season.
The girls' achievements have gained them a good deal of acclaim both locally and statewide.
There's no jealousy from the male side, however. Bryan Hall, a senior captain for the boys team, said the two teams cheer for each other as both strive to win championships.
"I think we support each other," Hall said. "We wish each other the best."
Peters Township boys coach Bob Dyer said that extends to the coaching staffs. He pointed out that the teams' coaches have a great relationship with each other, often bouncing ideas off one another in efforts to improve.
But Dyer admits there is a friendly rivalry between the two teams.
"I think everyone wants to be the top dog in their own house," Dyer said.
Although the Indians boys (13-1-2, 10-0-2) may not be the top soccer team at their own school -- the girls finished the regular season with a 17-1 overall record and the section title with a 10-0 mark as well as the Post-Gazette's No. 1 ranking in Class AAA -- they are the top team in tough Section 5-AAA this season.
They defeated WPIAL champion Upper St. Clair, 2-0, last Thursday, then clinched the section title with a 3-0 blanking of Moon Area Monday night.
The victory against Upper St. Clair, coupled with an earlier 2-2 tie with the Panthers, served as vindication for the Indians following last season when the Panthers beat Peters three times, including a 2-1 win in the WPIAL Class AAA title game.
"I think the win [against Upper St. Clair] was critical for us," Dyer said. "It proves to us that we are back and are able to compete with the best. It was a very big win."
The Indians lost just once in 16 matches this season, a 2-1 defeat to Bethel Park on Sept. 10. Ten of their 13 wins this season were "clean sheets" -- that is, the opponent was held scoreless.
Max O'Hare and Neil Harrison have both been solid in goal and have benefitted from a strong defense in front of them, led by Hall and Mark Enscoe.
But it's the team's depth and the players' acceptance of their roles that Dyer said has been the biggest reason for the Indians' success.
"There is competition at every position," Dyer said. "Practices are very difficult, but it helps us in preparation for games.
"We have a group of 24 kids and not everyone is going to play as much as they want to. For example, you have someone like D.J. Jaap, who started for us last season and is now coming off the bench. We ask him to come in and mark somebody, and he's done a great job. He's probably not happy about it, but he does the job he's asked to do.
"That's rare for a high school team. Our kids have accepted their roles and are doing the jobs they are called upon to do."
Peters Township is so deep that it's leading scorer, Mario Mastrangelo, comes off the bench.
Dyer says the team's depth is a tribute to the youth program that the township has for both its boys and girls.
"We had between 1,200 and 1,300 kids playing youth soccer last season," Dyer said. "That's crazy.
"The youth program develops fantastic players who come in as ninth-graders and then we mold them into final products."
With that type of turnout, it's likely that both of the Indians' soccer programs will be formidable for the foreseeable future.
First Published October 18, 2012 12:00 am