Rod Frisco | Post Gazette

Indians are 1st from WPIAL to win consecutive titles.

Peters Township sophomore forward Veronica Latsko simply had to score the lone goal in Saturday’s PIAA Class AAA girls soccer championship game. Otherwise, she might have missed her flight.

Latsko’s low strike at the 28:46 mark of the first half, one of just three shots taken by the Indians, was as much football play as soccer move, but it was the shot that mattered in a 1-0 victory against District 1 champion Pennridge at Hersheypark Stadium that was as improbable as it was historic.

With the victory, Peters Township became the first WPIAL team to win consecutive PIAA girls soccer championships, breaking the iron grip that District 1 teams had on the top classification since the inception of girls PIAA soccer championships in 1992.

And it was nothing short of amazing, given the massive losses to graduation the Indians suffered after their PIAA championship last season. Only three seniors returned from that team.

“A lot of these girls were new faces who sat on the bench last year,” Peters Township coach Pat Vereb said. “But they got a look at what it takes to win big games.”

What it took against Pennridge was constant, dig-deep defense. The Indians (20-3-1) held their own offensively against Pennridge (24-2) in a first half that saw few serious scoring opportunities. Peters Township was as limited as Pennridge, and it wasn’t until Latsko picked up a pass from Laurel Carpenter 30 yards out.

Latsko was quickly bracketed by two Pennridge defenders, and Latsko responded by trying to split them. She only partially succeeded, unable to break through. But she maintained control of the ball just ahead of the Pennridge defenders and was able to strike it low past Pennridge goalie Ashley Schoellkopf for the goal.

“I was trying to body them out,” Latsko said. “I was worried I wouldn’t get to the ball in time.” She did, and with the help of some extraordinary second-half defense led by senior Brooke Smith, Peters Township was able run out the clock and enable Latsko to catch a flight from Harrisburg to Florida. Latsko is part of the Olympic Development Program and will play with that group this week. “We were just trying to hold them off,” Latsko said. “They have such a good team offensively.”

It wasn’t easy. Pennridge pressed hard the entire second half. The Indians barely pretended to play offense — they attempted no shots in the final 40 minutes — but still had to rely on sophomore goalkeeper Megan Parker, who made four second-half stops, including a save off of a header as the clock expired.