Challenges await Peters Township boys soccer team
The Peters Township boys soccer team scored what might have been its biggest victory of the season Saturday by upsetting former No. 1 Upper St. Clair, 2-0.
Plenty more obstacles remain.
The Indians, the new No. 1 in the Tribune-Review rankings and unbeaten entering Tuesday night's matchup with District 10 heavyweight Erie Cathedral Prep, will close out this week with a pair of top-tier WPIAL opponents. On Thursday, they travel to six-win Canon-McMillan for a pivotal Section 5-AAA match and end the week with a road game against No. 5 Mt. Lebanon.
Still, Peters Township (7-0-2) is in the midst of a dominating stretch. Led by goaltender Parker Ulrich, the Indians haven't been scored on in their past four WPIAL games. In the same span, they've outscored the competition, 16-0.
"We have an approach where we enter every season with three goals: win a section title, WPIAL title and state title," Indians coach Bob Dyer said. "As you go through the season, things become more real, and I think kids realize they can get them."
A balanced, efficient offense has helped Peters Township's march toward its goals. Before last night's game, strikers Jessie Scheier and Zach Partyka led the Indians with 12 and eight goals, respectively. Junior forward Matt Venanzi had four goals and a team-high 12 assists. And Ulrich, backed by a stout defense, had seven shutouts.
Last fall, the Indians' season stalled in the WPIAL quarterfinals with a 2-1 loss to Bethel Park. While not using it as an outright excuse, Dyer said injuries and illness held his team back last season. That included two players who contracted the H1N1 flu virus.
"Going forward," Dyer said, "I think if we stay healthy, we can go far."
South Park shutouts
Since opening the season 0-1-1 against Class AAA powers State College and Mt. Lebanon, the No. 1 South Park girls soccer team has been overwhelming its Class AA competition. Led by sophomore goaltender Sarah Davis, the Eagles have posted shutouts in six of their past seven games. For the season, South Park has given up just three goals. The Eagles are 7-1 overall and lead Section 4-AA with a 7-0 mark.
Mars girls rolling
Life on the Mars girls soccer team is very good. The No. 3 Planets have the best record in the WPIAL — 11-0 overall and 7-0 in Section 2-AA. Most of their victories haven't been close, either. They are averaging 6.27 goals per game and have given up just six all season. After spending previous seasons in Class AAA, realignment moved Mars to AA this fall. The school's enrollment numbers were one girl shy of the AAA cutoff.
Alex Schmitt, a senior middle hitter on the Shaler girls volleyball team, has committed to play for Division-I Temple next fall. Schmitt leads a Titans team that has bolted to a 6-0 start in Section 4-AAA play and is the 10th-ranked Class AAA team in the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association poll.
Girls tennis begins its section doubles tournaments Thursday. The top three pairs in each section advance to the WPIAL tournaments, with the early rounds set for Oct. 7 (Class AA at Shady Side Academy, Class AAA at Keystone Oaks). The championships for both classes are Oct. 8 at Pine-Richland.