Jason Mackey | Observer Reporter
Veronica Latsko hinted that the Peters Township girls soccer team’s PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal against Seneca Valley Saturday afternoon might have been a bit physical. OK, she did more than hint.
“What day is today, Saturday? I don’t think they have Saturday football games, do they? Only in college,” Latsko said. “We had a delayed high school football game.” Yes, they did.
A physical battle, for sure, with drawn blood, flared tempers and players helped off the turf. Not only was the game physical, it also was one of the stranger games Latsko has experienced, with the junior striker scoring on an indirect kick from eight yards in the 15th minute to produce a 1-0 win at Chartiers Valley.
The indirect free kick was called when Raiders goalkeeper Jessica Neill picked up a backward pass from a defender, and Peters Township’s Olivia Roberson touched the ball briefly before Latsko fired away from close range.
“I wasn’t close enough to really see it. I thought the referee was making a judgment call, whether it was an intentional pass back,” Indians coach Pat Vereb said. “I’ll take the goal, but that’s a tough way to have it happen against you.”
The goal even looked odd, with Latsko taking what was essentially a penalty kick while Seneca Valley’s defense was spread across the goal. Still, she found a way to push a shot through for her fifth goal in these playoffs, 35th of the season and 113th of her career.
“It’s a rare thing,” Latsko said of the indirect kick. “We practice it, just in case whatever happens, we’d be prepared. But I just tried to stay over it, and that’s all I could really do.”
Peters Township (22-1) advances to the PIAA Class AAA semifinals and will play Wilson – a 2-1 winner in double-overtime over Governor Mifflin – Tuesday, at a site and time to be determined. Wilson finished third in District 3, one spot above Cumberland Valley, which dealt Peters Township its only loss: 3-2 Sept. 29. Governor Mifflin was the top-seeded team out of District 3.
“It will be nice to get out of the district and play a fresh team,”” Vereb said. “”It’s tough to play the same teams; they’re gunning for you. Maybe playing a fresh team will make a huge difference.”
Saturday’s game was a rematch of the WPIAL Class AAA championship, which Peters Township won, 2-1, on a Latsko header with 27 seconds left in the overtime period. And while that gamewasn’t as physical, it was fairly evident the Raiders (20-3)hadn’t forgotten about that emotional loss.
“I think tensions were running high from the first game, and we just brought it,” Latsko said. “I know they were upset about the outcome last time; I’ll bet that really influenced their play. It was the exact same way two years ago when we played Pine-Richland for the second time.”
One of Seneca Valley’s best chances to tie the game came in the 77th minute, when Rachel Leake – who earlier had a shot pulled off the goal line by Indians goalkeeper Carly Johns – and Melissa Lynskey both had shots from in close. The Raiders forced a corner kick that was taken by Morgan Williams, but Johns turned that aside as well.
“I knew that I had to get the ball in order to stop the team from scoring,” Johns said. “I just jumped up and grabbed it.”