Peters Township boys rout rival Canon-McMillan to advance to finals
Nicco Mastrangelo didn't have much to say.
The statement the junior striker made earlier — three goals to lead the Peters Township boys soccer team to a 4-0 rout of rival Canon-McMillan in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals — would more than suffice.
Mastrangelo's hat trick not only pushed the seventh-seeded Indians into the WPIAL final for the eighth time in 11 seasons, but it avenged an emotional, season-ending loss to the Big Macs last year, like Monday's game at Chartiers Valley.
“We had passion throughout the whole game,” said Mastrangelo, who now has four goals in the playoffs. “We wanted to beat these guys because they beat us last year.”
Peters Township (16-3-2) scored twice within the first 15 minutes to take a commanding lead over the defending WPIAL champion Big Macs (16-3-2).
Goalkeeper Max O'Hare made it stand up, as he posted his third shutout of the playoffs after wins over No. 10 North Allegheny and No. 2 Seneca Valley.
“It's like a weight has been lifted off our backs,” O'Hare said of avenging losses to Canon-Mac in the WPIAL semifinals and the first round of the state playoffs. “I really think we pulled through, and we were the better team out there.”
Canon-McMillan coach Larry Fingers wouldn't argue.
For whatever reason, the Big Macs appeared nothing like the team that topped No. 6 Norwin and No. 3 Fox Chapel to get here.
“I think the kids were too excited, and we took Peters lightly,” Fingers said. “Peters works hard. They don't do anything special; they work hard. They out-worked us. We were rattled, and we let two early mistakes get to us. They dictated the rest of the game.”
Matt Massucci put the Indians ahead early with a shot from the left side after a sustained possession in the 10th minute.
Mastrangelo made it 2-0 in the 14th when he ran down a loose ball and nudged it inside the far post past a chasing Ivan Viveros.
“That gave us the whole game,” Mastrangelo said. “Their heads dropped for a little bit, we just kept pounding them.”
Peters Township's lead nearly grew to 3-0 in the 26th minute off a corner kick from Ryan Ponchione. But an offside call negated the Jonathan Sion header that snuck past Canon-McMillan goalkeeper Christian Snatchko.
Massucci tried again for the third goal and nearly had it in the 49th minute with his backward, heel kick. But Snatchko again held strong.
Mastrangelo made it 3-0 by finishing a header from his brother, Mario, in the 67th minute.
He completed the hat trick with a mini-breakaway in the 69th, chasing down a loose ball, corralling it and finishing for his 19th of the season.
“He got the ball in good space,” Peters Township coach Bob Dyer said. “He did the work. He scored the goals, but people put him in some great places.”
And now, coupled with the Peters Township girls soccer team's win over Bethel Park, both Indians squads are in a similar great place: the WPIAL finals, together, for the third time in the past six years.
“It's about the kids,” Dyer said. “They played their guts out to win that game.”