WEXFORD — A two-goal differential in a soccer championship game is obviously not ideal.
But for the team with the lead?
“A two-goal lead is the most dangerous lead in soccer,” Seneca Valley boys coach George Williams said. “You don't do it consciously, but you tend to feel a little too comfortable.
“We took advantage of that today.”
Indeed, they did.
The Raiders (14-1-1) trailed top-seeded Peters Township 3-1 at halftime of the WPIAL Class 4A championship game Saturday at North Allegheny's Newman Stadium before rallying for a 4-3 victory in double-overtime.
The district title marks Seneca Valley's second in three years.
The loss was stunning for the Indians (13-2-1), who became the first team to score three goals on the Raiders all season — and netted all three in the first half.
“I don't think we were overly defensive in the second half,” PT coach Bob Dyer said. “They caught us on a couple of breakouts and finished.
“That's the difference in a game like this. They finished plays. We didn't.”
The Raiders' prime finisher was sophomore midfielder Beaux Lizewski. He tallied three goals and an assist, including the game-winner with 4:40 remaining in the second overtime.
Lizewski has 10 goals on the season. He leads SV in assists. The hat trick was the first of his high school career.
“The ball just bounced my way today,” Lizewski said.
Lizewski scored the first goal of the game on a set play off a corner kick. Mason Baldwin delivered a pass to him and Lizewski — standing a few yards in front of the left goalpost — headed the ball into the net in the 13th minute.
But Peters Township exploded from there.
Joseph Tomari headed in a 35-yard free kick by Luke Holmes in the 27th minute to tie the game. Andrew Massucci — who scored the game-winner in double OT for the Indians in their two previous playoff games — deftly spun away from two SV defenders and scored the go-ahead goal in the 30th minute.
Peters Township added its third goal when Holmes headed in a 46-yard free kick by Dominic Sambuco with 59 seconds left in the half.
“That third goal really hurt,” Williams admitted.
But the Raiders responded.
“The resiliency these kids showed was incredible,” Williams said. “I've seen them step up to challenges before, but never like this.”
Lizewski took a free kick from 35 yards that Nathan Eastgate — the Raiders' leading goal scorer with 12 — knocked home in the 50th minute. Lizewski scored the tying goal off an assist from Jacob Bruno in the 64th minute.
“Desperation can be a powerful thing,” Dyer said. “They came at us hard.”
Both teams had golden chances to win before the game was decided.
With 7:36 left in regulation, Massucci drilled a shot square off the right goal post from 15 yards out. The ball deflected straight back to SV sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Krumenacker, who did not allow a rebound.
“Game of inches ... simple as that,” Dyer said.
The Raiders' Zack LaValle had a shot at an open net with 1:10 left in the first overtime. PT goalkeeper Derek Liguori slid out of position after making a save and LaValle was trying to knock the rebound home.
Indians defender Aidan Martik jumped in front of the net and deflected the shot out of play.
“That was their kid just making a great play,” Lizewski said. “Zack hammered that shot.”
Lizewski finally ended the game in the second OT. During a scrum in front of the PT net, the ball rolled toward his feet as Ligouri slipped to the turf and tried crawling to corral it.
Lizewski worked the ball, around the fallen netminder and rolled it into the right corner of the net.
“I didn't want to knock it right into him,” Lizewski said. “I needed to clear some space.”
“Beaux kept his composure and made a play I know he'll remember for a long time,” Williams said.
Seneca Valley will play State College in the PIAA playoffs Saturday.