Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Goalkeeper Lifts Peters to an Upset in Title Game

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Goalkeeper Lifts Peters to an Upset in Title Game

Article excerpt

Maybe Peters Township goalkeeper Max O'Hare didn't know it while he was in mid-air, left arm extended in pure desperation to palm away a shot from Upper St. Clair's Joe Bell that seemed destined to ripple the back of the net and break a scoreless tie, but he was about 20 minutes away from hoisting the WPIAL Class AAA championship trophy.

The save was one of a bevy produced over last Friday evening by a goalkeeper who truly stands out from others playing the position -- thickly built with curly blonde hair and an attitude that Indians coach Bob Dyer says drives the team.

"[He brings] emotion and heart, and we live off that," Dyer said.

A quick counterattack sprung in the 64th minute, seconds after O'Hare's stop, gave the Indians the lead. Junior striker Mario Mastrangelo pulled in a pass from teammate Bennett Faloni, cut inside of his defender and fired home his third goal of the playoffs.

The Indians proceeded to knock off Upper St. Clair, 1-0, capturing the eighth WPIAL title in school history. The lengths to which they -- and O'Hare -- defied one of the top teams in the country do not show in a quick glance at a score line.

Peters Township (18-3-2), which went on to defeat Canon- McMillan, 2-1, Tuesday in the first round of the PIAA tournament, fell to then-undefeated Upper St. Clair -- ranked fifth in the nation at the time by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America -- twice during the regular season, surrendering 10 goals over the two contests.

That's about in line with Upper St. Clair's offensive output over the season, as the Panthers averaged 5.15 goals per game heading into last Friday night's contest.

The last time the Panthers (19-1-1) were held scoreless happened almost a year to the day of this year's final, when they were shut out by Canon-McMillan in last year's WPIAL title game on Nov. 3, 2012.

Which all is to say a 1-0 lead -- even with only a quarter of an hour remaining -- is rarely enough against an offense as powerful as Upper St. Clair's.

"Whenever we scored that goal, my first thought is, 'Alright, now we need to step up our game and play harder than we have the entire time,'" O'Hare said. …

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