Ball bounces Upper St. Clair's way in PIAA soccer
Upper St. Clair goalkeeper Will Petley insisted the tip of his middle finger touched Mario Mastrangelo's penalty kick in the 48th minute of Saturday's PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal against Peters Township.
Did he? That's highly debatable.
His finger sure didn't keep the ball out of the goal. The post handled that.
But the thwarted attempt did underscore how the bounces went for Upper St. Clair and against the Indians during a 3-0 Panthers win at Chartiers Valley.
“The whole time I was thinking, ‘If this goes in, the game's going to change, and they're going to have the momentum,'” Petley said. “I didn't want to let these guys down, so I did my best to get to it.
“When we stopped that, I knew we had the momentum. We kind of picked it up and ran with it. Got a couple more goals, and it turned out well for us.”
Troye Kiernan, Doug Hapeman and Garrett Blake scored for Upper St. Clair, which will play Cumberland Valley on Tuesday, site and time to be determined.
Upper St. Clair (21-1-1) avenged a 1-0 loss to the Indians (18-4-2) in the WPIAL Class AAA final eight days ago. The Panthers generated plenty of chances in both games, though they were able to finish them Saturday.
“Sometimes, they go in, and sometimes, they don't,” Upper St. Clair coach Uwe Schneider said. “Maybe ask the ball. That's just how it is. I knew if we got a goal that we were going to win this game.”
For Peters Township, the loss concluded a tremendous run to the WPIAL title, where the seventh-seeded Indians knocked off No. 10 North Allegheny; No. 2 Seneca Valley; defending championship Canon-McMillan, seeded No. 11; and the top-seeded Panthers.
A 2-1 victory over the Big Macs produced this rematch, but the Indians, now with eight WPIAL titles, might've run out of steam.
“We struggled to play with passion and heart,” Peters Township coach Bob Dyer said. “They won their share of the 50-50 balls, and that comes down to being in the game. They finished their chances. We missed our chances.”
Kiernan converted on a penalty kick in the 16th minute for Upper St. Clair's first goal.
Indians defender Max Lindsay made a fantastic stop six minutes later, clearing the crease by kicking a Dom Caruso header out of mid-air in the 22nd minute. Dylan Weyers made a similar goal-saving stop in the 70th minute.
Hapeman made it 2-0 after Blake's throw-in and a scrum in front of the Peters Township goal in the 57th minute. Blake stretched the lead to 3-0 with a powerful shot from about 20 yards in the 73rd.
“All through the season, everyone kids with me because I'm ambitious with those shots,” Blake said. “I just took a touch and thought I would give it another try.
“I struck it really well.”
Upper St. Clair might've lost in the WPIAL final for a second consecutive season, but now the Panthers are one step closer to defending their PIAA Class AAA title.
“That was a game that everyone wanted to win,” Blake said of the WPIAL final. “But this is the more important one. Losing then really gave us extra motivation to play here. If we had won then, things might've been different.”