Days after the disappointment and dejection of having lost a WPIAL championship, the Peters Township boy’s soccer team had every reason to be ecstatic and enthusiastic about its accomplishments in 2020 and its prospects for an equally productive future.
Despite their 4-3 double-overtime loss to Seneca Valley in the Quad-A final played Nov. 7 at Newman Stadium on the North Allegheny High School campus, the Indians compiled a 13-2-1 record, complete with a section title. The Indians own eight WPIAL titles, four state crowns and two additional PIAA runner-up trophies.
Peters Township rebounded from last year’s 5-9-3 record, while dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The Indians played a complete schedule.
“I was very proud of how the boys took the entire season in stride and continued to work hard every practice and game,” said PT head coach Bob Dyer. “They embraced the district’s protocol and we avoided being suspended.”
Though the Indians kicked off the season tying Bethel Park 2-2, they reeled off nine consecutive wins before dropping their first match 2-0 to Upper St. Clair. In capturing a 10-1-1 section championship, Peters Township also racked up a pair of wins against rival Canon-McMillan and Mt. Lebanon. The Big Macs were the 2019 WPIAL champion while Lebo was the district runner-up.
The Indians continued their winning ways in dramatic fashion during their playoff run. They posted back-to-back 2-1 overtime victories against Baldwin and Fox Chapel on golden goals from Andrew Massucci.
Massucci scored his 19th goal of the season to lift the Indians to a 2-1 advantage over Seneca Valley in the first half of the championship game.
A junior, Masucci also kicked the game-winning extra point during the Indians football team’s 20-19 WPIAL playoff victory over Gateway less than 24 hours before the soccer final.
“Andrew never misses on our side and they work to accommodate his schedule (for football),” Dyer said.
“He’s a tremendous competitor and one of our hardest workers but he will be the first to tell you that he benefits from the hard work of the players behind him.”
Eight seniors keyed PT’s success this fall.
Goalie Derek Liguori anchored the defense. Zachary Gallagher, Ethan Smelko, Andre Goldsmith and Matthew Gryzb were among other key defenders, who shared in five shutouts this season.
Luke Holmes and Dominic Sambuco dominated in the midfield. The pair combined for a goal off a free kick that enabled PT to open up a 3-1 advantage over the Raiders by halftime.
Derek Nissly, a striker, completes the senior class.
“I want to thank our senior class for leading this program back to the championship game,” Dyer said. “We had an off year last year and these guys led us back. That’s something not lost on the coaching staff. We owe them a large debt of gratitude.”
In addition to Massucci, the Indians will welcome back Joe Tornari to next year’s roster. Tornari scored the equalizer to make the score 1-1 against SV at the 13:17 mark in the first half.
Beaux Liznewski, however, was up to the task of thwarting the Indians, who entered the tournament at the No. 1 seed. Liznewski scored his third goal of the game with 4:40 remaining in the second overtime period to secure the victory for the Raiders.
“I don’t know what happened,” Seneca Valley head coach George Williams said about being down 3-1 at halftime.
“Peters Township is a strong team.”
Along with Massucci and Tonari, the Indians will be even stronger because they return additional talent for 2021.
Among the other returning juniors are Alexander Grim, Cole Woodward, Austin Marmol, Anthony Schullek, Nicolas Andreano, Aidan Martik, Alex Fielding, Brady Sorrell, Joe Heuler, John Miller, Alex Colombari and Aaron Brula.
The Indians’ varsity roster featured five sophomores – Nick Magee, Connor Hoye, Steven Suchko, Mason Lewis and Roman Milani – as well as a pair of freshmen – Blake Gabelhart and Nathan Froelich.
“The future is bright,” Dyer said. “But only if we work hard in the off-season to capitalize on the upcoming talent.”