WPIAL Boys Soccer Class 4A Final
FINAL: Seneca Valley 4, Peters Township 3
An impromptu symphony of car horns feted the Raiders (14-1-1) as their bus pulled away from Newman Stadium with a second WPIAL Boys 4A soccer championship in three years. Seneca Valley found its own second gear in the second half, and a golden goal in the second half of extra time, to rally past Peters Township, 4-3, at North Allegheny High School Saturday.
Down 3-1 to the Indians (13-2-1), a traditional title challenger with ten district crowns all-time, sophomore midfielder Beaux Lizewski set up a goal, scored his second of the afternoon, then rewrote a script that had Peters seeking a third consecutive double-overtime win in postseason play.
He followed a bouncing ball deep into the box, out-muscling two Peters Township defenders and tapping it around an off-balance Derek Liguori. Lizewski maneuvered to his right and slammed it past the down-and-out keeper in the 106th minute to complete a historic hat trick, and equally historic comeback.
HOW IT HAPPENED
“I owe it all to my teammates. The journey we took to get here is just as amazing as winning this game,” said Lizewski. “I couldn’t have done it without them. It’s amazing. Every day in practice, we worked harder than any other team in the WPIAL.”
The Raiders caught the Indians playing the second half on their collective back foot, and Peters Township never seemed to fully get back on the right one, thanks to a prompt pushback by Seneca Valley after a tough first half.
Peters came out in a 4-5-1 but dropped a fifth man back after building its two-goal advantage. However, this didn’t stop Seneca from accelerating the game’s tempo.
“It’s just our work rate. We have a deep bench, with guys who are fit, and they’ve shown their fitness throughout the season,” head coach George Williams said. “That’s something that we really wanted to take advantage of, and we were able to do that.”
One of his myriad substitutes, Jacob Bruno, played a perfect through ball right down the middle of the pitch for a hard-charging Lizewski, whose effortless one-timer brought the Raiders level in the 64th minute.
It was the first time all season that either team had conceded three times in a single game.
“We’ve seen flashes. We know he’s a player who can do stuff like that,” said Williams. “We haven’t had quite the opportunity for him to show that in a setting like this, but clearly he can do that. It’s nice to have someone like that on our side.”
In the 50th, Lizewski earned an indirect free kick along the right side, from a little over 35 yards out, which he lobbed to the exact right spot inside the sea of humanity, where the head of senior forward Nathan Eastgate was waiting to make it a 3-2 contest.
“Our halftime discussion was, this is the last half we’re going to play all season if we lose. That kicked us into gear, and we all just hustled as a team, as a unit, and it paid off,” Lizewski said.
Seneca Valley enjoyed a noticeable territorial advantage early in the match as well. Kyle Majeski earned back-to-back corner kicks on the far side in the 13th minute, and he slid the second of those to senior middie Mason Baldwin, who drilled it immediately into the box for a Lizewski header on Liguori’s doorstep, capping off a textbook play that put the Raiders on top.
Peters Township equalized with a set-piece strike of its own in the 27th before taking the lead in the run of play three minutes later. Luke Holmes delivered a 30-yard free kick from the right wing to the top of the box, where junior defender Joseph Tomari, who played a strong two-way match, redirected it into the far corner of the net.
Junior striker Andrew Massucci wasted little time adding another chapter to his storybook playoff with a one-on-three goal that produced a 2-1 scoreline. Massucci worked his way free at the upper-right corner of the box and overpowered Ryan Krumenacker.
The Indians, who had relied upon Massucci’s leadership so often while playing from behind, seemed to really take command right before the break when they got a fortuitous bounce on another set piece. Dominic Sambuco blasted a 50-yard free kick off a Seneca Valley head in the 39th minute that a leaping Holmes barely nodded into the goal.
Holmes was awarded a free kick in a much more dangerous spot in the 59th minute, but he pinged it off the football crossbar hanging above the net. The Indians continued to press for insurance in the 73rd, when Massucci had the Raiders’ back line beat and rang his shot off the right post before Krumenacker recovered the rebound.
Until Lizewski’s treble, it seemed Peters gave itself new life in the final minute of the first OT. Aidan Martik scrambled toward the goal line to block a second-chance attempt on an otherwise vacant net with Liguori was hung out to dry.
“It’s one of those where, you see that, and you think, ‘Oh, no, is that the way it’s going to go?’ But, like you tell the players, you turn around, and you work just as hard to make that happen again,” Williams said. “Man, did they do that.”
“[Forward Zack] LaValle, one of our seniors and better players up top, did a great job winning a 50-50 ball,” Lizewski said of his eventual treble. “He just played it over as a mix between me and four defenders.
“It just happened to fall to me.”
Lizewski, creating the luck that previously eluded him and his teammates, delivered his team the title and state playoff berth that many expected Seneca Valley to capture in 2020, albeit in a manner beyond their wildest imaginations.
“It feels amazing–and we’re not done here,” he said.
“It’s been an extraordinary year, and it is a credit to every single player out there,” said Williams. “Whether they were on the field, off the field, or in the stands with us, every one of those guys was a part of our team and made us better. It speaks to the quality of players we get to work with.
“But like we always say, enjoy this one tonight, then tomorrow, it’s back to work.”
Justin Berl Photo Gallery
We’ll provide updates here once the game kicks off.
Our coverage team include Matt Popchock (reporting) and Justin Berl (photography).
PREGAME – Seneca Valley starts Ryan Krumenacker in goal. Chase Thomas, Nathan Eastgate, Mason Baldwin, Kyle Majeski, Matthew Bickart, Josh Kosakowski, Sam DeFabbo, Zack LaValle, Beaux Lizewski and Connor Schmidt round out the starting XI.
Peters Township starts Derek Liguori in goal. Alexander Grim, Cole Woodward, Joseph Tomari, Austin Marmol, Anthony Schullek, Luke Holmes, Dominic Sambuco, Mason Lewis, Dylan Shaw and semifinal hero Andrew Massucci comprise the rest of the Indians’ starting XI.
1′ – The Indians and Raiders are on the warpath! Seneca gets the first touch, and we’re underway from Wexford!
2′ – A bounding ball in the middle of the box is deflected off a Peters defender by Kyle Majeski and sails over the bar. Goal kick to the Indians.
6′ – The first chance for Peters is a cross by Massucci from the right side, intended for Marmol, that is thwarted by Majeski defensively. Ultimately, the Raiders earn a goal kick after an unsuccessful Peters throw-in on the far side, following the incomplete pass.
8′ – Liguori makes back-to-back top flight saves, from point-blank range, denying a hustling Eastgate, then LaValle on the rebound, before Joseph Tomari clears. Liguori then punches away the resulting Seneca Valley corner kick, which came from the near flag.
13′ – Goal to the Raiders! And a goregous set-piece goal it was! A second consecutive corner kick by Majeski, from the far side, is redirected by the foot of Baldwin and headed in from right in the middle of the box by Beaux Lizewski! PT 0-1 SV
15′ – The Indians have come from behind in each of their last two playoff rounds, so the third time will have to be the charm. But the Raiders have enjoyed a distinct territorial advantage early in this match, as head coach George Williams makes a number of substitutions… PT 0-1 SV
19′ – Now Peters is starting to get a couple cracks at the equalizer. Holmes takes a corner kick from the near side that goes deep but is cleared by the Raiders’ back line before it can get to Krumenacker. PT 0-1 SV
24′ – Sambuco earns an indirect free kick for Peters from about 40-some yards out, right down the middle. Seneca survives, as the ball is deflected wide of the near post, and the Raiders draw a foul of their own. PT 0-1 SV
27′ – Peters are level! Another set piece for Holmes, this time a free kick from the right wing, 30 yards away, leads to a header by Tomari, positioned in the middle of the box, that goes to the right, past Krumenacker! PT 1-1 SV
30′ – Now the Indians break on top! Massucci, one-on-three(!) at the upper-right corner of the box, spins through the tangled web of white kits and rips one right through Krumenacker! PT 2-1 SV
37′ – Oof. Holmes punts a hard ball off the side of Jonathan Pruce’s head. Play is halted briefly as the Seneca senior middie is slow to get up near midfield, but does so eventually. PT 2-1 SV
39′ – Goal to the Indians! Sambuco takes a shot from distance that might have been an own goal off a Seneca Valley head, but Holmes reacts like he got the last touch with his own noggin! PT 3-1 SV
40′ – Halftime at North Allegheny, Peters 3-1 Seneca, as Bob Dyer’s side, oddly enough, continues to relish playing from behind.
The Indians answer a brilliant set-piece score by Lizewski (13′) with one of their own from Tomari (27′), then pull ahead in the run of play, as Massucci (30′) adds to his own folklore, followed by Holmes’ insurance marker.
CORRECTION: The third Peters goal, upon video review, was another set-piece goal, with Samburo earning the aforementioned assist on the 50-yard free kick from the right side.
Peters Township’s Twitter account still credits it as an own goal, but we’ll give Holmes the benefit of the doubt for now.
42′ – We’re back to action, as the Raiders put a free kick from the left wing well over the bar, from 20 yards out. Seneca needs to score three times, minimally, to reclaim its 2018 district crown… PT 3-1 SV
44′ – Good push from the Raiders to start the second half. Another, quickly taken, free kick from the left elbow is, again, deflected over and beyond the goal, by LaValle. PT 3-1 SV
50′ – Seneca continues to look like a team with new legs, and now it has new life! Lizewski’s indirect free kick from 35-ish yards away, from the near side, is deflected home, right in front, by Eastgate! PT 3-2 SV
52′ – Oh boy, Eastgate’s trying to do it all by himself, 12 yards from goal, and he nearly does. He’s one-on-one, as Liguori takes a risk and pays the price, coming to meet his opponent and turtling up to take the ball off the senior forward’s foot, before he can pull it around the keeper and create an open-net chance. PT 3-2 SV
57′ – Peters is trying to get that one back. A through ball down the middle of the pitch by Grim, however, is just a little too far for Sambuco. Still, a respite for that Indians back line that has been rare in this half. PT 3-2 SV
59′ – A direct free kick from 25 yards high by Holmes ricochets off the football crossbar (no, the other one). Goal kick, Seneca Valley. PT 3-2 SV
64′ – Beaux Lizewski is all about the brace! Seneca are level after the through ball from Jacob Bruno is one-timed into the middle of the mesh by the sophomore! PT 3-3 SV
65′ – A long, 50-plus-yard free kick is snared by a running, leaping Krumenacker. Who will be the hero? This is the first time either side has conceded three goals all year, so your guess is as good as ours at the moment… PT 3-3 SV
71′ – Lizewski, on the near touchline, with a free kick from just beyond the attacking third that is deflected out for a goal kick, wide of the far post. Peters has played this second half on its back foot, and seems to be having trouble regaining that proverbial step. PT 3-3 SV
73′ – Massucci, just like that, rings one right off the far post from six yards out! He muscled his way through the back line and just missed a go-ahead goal, and Krumenacker gathers in the rebound. PT 3-3 SV
78′ – Moments after Tomari misses from the left wing, Woodward forces a catching save from Krumenacker, straight on. PT 3-3 SV
80′ – Stop us if you’ve heard it before: overtime! Peters Township finds itself in familiar territory, entering sudden-victory soccer 3-3 with Seneca Valley.
81′ – For the third straight match in postseason play, the Indians begin extra time. Can the Raiders stop their remarkable run and capture a second championship in three years? PT 3-3 SV
86′ – LaValle is whistled for taunting the Peters sideline near midfield. Fortunately for his sake, Seneca clear away the ensuing indirect free kick easily. PT 3-3 SV
88′ – Liguori with a beautiful, full-extension leaping save of an Eastgate header off a 30-plus-yard free kick! PT 3-3 SV
94′ – After Grim misses from above the box at one end, Aidan Martik makes a season-saving save off the line with Liguori out of position! An incredible defensive play! PT 3-3 SV
95′ – History doesn’t just repeat, it three-peats; Peters Township will play a second extra period for the third straight match! Still 3-3 with Seneca Valley, which nearly pulled it out before the buzzer here at Newman Stadium.
96′ – Peters gets the first touch of the second overtime. PT 3-3 SV
98′ – A throw-in from the deep on the left side by DeFabbo is grabbed by Liguori. PT 3-3 SV
100′ – A questionable call leads to a corner kick, on the near side, for Majewski, but Liguori was ready along the side of the net. PT 3-3 SV
106′ – BREAK OUT THE CHAPEAUS, BABY! HAT TRICK AND GOLDEN GOAL, BEAUX LIZEWSKI! Lizewski stays with a bounding ball in the middle of the box, maneuvers around a pair of defenders, dances to the right and easily deposits it past a down-and-out Liguori.
FINAL: SENECA VALLEY 4-3 PETERS TOWNSHIP
More to come from North Allegheny, where the Raiders have won their second Boys 4A crown in three seasons!
Key Storylines / Preview
Seneca Valley were one favorites to win the WPIAL title heading into the playoffs after winning Section 1 with just one loss (to Butler) and one tie (to North Allegheny).
They had to pass a tough first test against section foe Butler in the quarterfinal, winning 1-0 on Kyle Majeski’s goal off a free kick in the 70th minute along with a solid defensive performance with goalkeeper Adam Davies picking up the shutout.
Seneca’s Head Coach George Williams, who won his 300th win after beating Butler in the quarterfinal round, has a lot of roster depth this year, as he’s been subbing in players in regular intervals to keep his team fresh and has a squad that can bring high energy for 80 full minutes. When watching Seneca Valley, opposing coaches have noted that when they sub in and out with four or five players at a time, there’s been little drop off.
In Wednesday’s semifinal against Section 3 champs Norwin, the Raiders were trailing early in the match after a foul in the box that led to surrendering a penalty kick goal.
This wasn’t an issue for Seneca Valley. They brought on a wave of subs that helped flip a shift in momentum to the match.
Just like that, within 10 minutes, Seneca scored twice. Luke Simpson strike level the match, then Nathan Prex buried from 6 yards out to take the lead in the 23rd minute. Ben Marquardt contributed assists on both goals scored by players coming off the bench.
Eventually they would score three more in the second half as they wore down Norwin on its way to a convincing 5-1 win.
Peters Township persevered through a couple of tough matches in the first two round of the playoffs — needing two overtime, golden goals from Andrew Massucci.
Peters has a great tradition — and with a win on Saturday will win its 11th WPIAL Boys Soccer title. They may not have as much depth as Seneca Valley, but they have continued to find a way to win all season with senior leadership, a constant high press and solid defending, especially in the final third, making things difficult for well-skilled opponents like Baldwin and Fox Chapel to convert and create quality chances.
Head Coach Bobby Dyer talked about the challenge of playing Seneca Valley after the win on Wednesday night against Fox Chapel.
This should be another terrific Boys 4A match and a battle of attrition. Peters probably can’t afford to fall behind in this match as they did in its previous two matches in the playoffs.
Can Seneca Valley win its second WPIAL title in the past three years? One thing is for certain — they won’t hold anything back and use as many players as they can to do so.
Interview with Peters Township’s Bobby Dyer and Andrew Massucci