There is no secret as to why the Peters Township boys lacrosse team is poised to make a strong run in the WPIAL playoffs.
Despite an 11-7 setback against Mt. Lebanon on April 27, the Indians have rolled to a 9-1 overall record and a No. 4 ranking in Class AAA.
“We are playing well as a team,” said PT coach Mike Kaplan.
For starters, there is the high-powered offense.
Freshman Chase Cogley and senior Keyan Moser are the top scorers with 23 goals each.
Senior Liam McCall is the playmaker with 27 assists though Cogley follows with 22.
McCall has produced 15 tallies while sophomore Eliot Schratz (19 goals, 12 assists) and junior Riley Grudi (16 goals, 2 assists) contribute to the potency of the offense.
“We have a handful of players capable of putting the ball in the back of the net,” Kaplan said. “They all play unselfishly which creates a lot of opportunities for us. If one guy is having an off night or struggling to finish, others are ready to step up and fill that role.”
While, defensively the Indians may not be the biggest team on the field, they are talented and determined.
“We’re athletic and play hungry,” said Kaplan. “We do a pretty decent job driving shooters to bad angles which gives us a great chance to stop the ball.”
Zach Courie is PT’s final line of defense. The junior goalkeeper averages more than 50 percent in saves. Courie was particularly impressive as he helped steer the Indians back from an 8-3 deficit to beat Pine-Richland, 13-12. Course made 14 saves in the contest.
“Zach’s high energy, a great leader and most importantly, he makes saves,” said Kaplan.
Captain Cam Uchic and Ethan Traumuller are PT’s two seniors out in front who have done the job on their match-ups. Micah Moser rounds out the Indians down low and Brad Knight is the team’s primary long-stick midfielder.
“Cam is incredibly dangerous with the ball in his stick, and has sparked some great transition offense throughout the year, as well as being an all-around leader,” said Kaplan.
“Brad has been a spark plug between the boxes, creating havoc all over the field.
“Our defenders may not be the biggest group in the WPIAL but they’re all athletic and capable of pushing the ball up the field and being part of the offense.”
Kaplan also praised seniors Ryan Shannon, Cullen Gillespie (captain), and sophomore Justin Tornatore.
“Our midfield has also done a tremendous job playing hard and giving Zach the best opportunity to make saves,” he said. “Those guys may not wind up on the stat sheet as often, but they’re definitely some unsung heroes.”
“As a team, either side of the ball can be the reason for our success on any given day. If our offense struggles, defense is generally creating turnovers and providing them with more opportunities, and the best defense is a good offense. So when they’re firing on all cylinders and generating a lot of quality shots on goal, the defense gets to rest their legs a bit more,” Kaplan said.
Though the Indians experienced a great start, the second half of the season “ramps up in difficulty” as they make trips to Hempfield and Latrobe and host Canon-McMillan on May 10 to complete section action. The Indians also visit Mars on May 2.
“They are potentially the hottest team in the WPIAL,” said Kaplan of the Planets, who have won the past five Class AA titles.
“Doing well against our remaining section opponents is critical to making playoffs and getting a solid seed, as well as building some steam,” Kaplan continued. “Once playoffs begin, it’s a matter of winning one game at a time. In the playoffs things can get weird. Any disparity in talent is easily replaced by heart and hustle. The end goal is the same as everyone else — win a WPIAL championship.”