Jason Mackey | Observer Reporter
Defending Veronica Latsko is something few soccer coaches around the WPIAL look forward to attempting.
But as if that’s not difficult enough, try devising a game plan to stop Latsko a junior who has more than 80 career goals and a scholarship to the University of Virginia and senior Olivia Roberson, the Peters Township girls soccer team’s 30-goal scorer a season ago who’s headed to Duquesne.
No thanks, most will say.
“I think goal scorers are born, and they’ve been scoring goals since they were 7 or 8 years old,” Indians coach Pat Vereb said. “They’ve always been that go-to player on their club teams and their travel teams. It’s just a mentality that they want to score.”
Roberson’s footprints were all over Peters Township’s 7-0 win over neighborhood rival Caon-McMillan Monday night. She scored three goals, assisted on two more and helped the Indians improve to 2-0 in section play and 5-0 overall, an impressive performance from a player who’s every bit as dangerous as Latsko, who added one goal and two assists.
“We’re definitely used to playing with each other, so that helps a lot,” Roberson said. “We know where each other will be, and we just play off each other.”
The two-time defending PIAA Class AAA champion Indians have now outscored their five opponents, 35-1. Canon-McMillan, meanwhile, fell to 1-2 in section, 2-4 overall. Coach Dave Derrico declined an interview request from the Observer-Reporter after the game. Five days after Roberson and Latsko both recorded hat tricks during a 12-1 victory over Laurel Highlands, Roberson staked Peters Township to a 3-0 lead by halftime of Monday night’s home opener.
She opened the scoring in the fourth minute by taking a Latsko pass and streaking down the left flank before tucking a left-footed shot inside the right post.
“I knew the goalie was good up in the air, so I tried to place it,” Roberson said. “Lucky hit, I guess.”
Roberson set up Emily Franty for the Indians’ second goal with a bouncing pass across the field in the 17th minute, which Franty easily finished. After winning a 50-50 ball in the 28th minute, Roberson quickly fired a shot from 20 yards that deflected off a Canon-McMillan defender and went in. Roberson found much of her space because Latsko was consistently marked by two and sometimes three defenders, a defensive blueprint followed by most teams.
“I’ve been getting a lot more breakaways this year,” Roberson said.
Franty headed a corner kick that Caitlin Carey tipped in the 53th minute, and Roberson set up Latsko for her first of the game in the 56th minute for a 5-0 advantage. Laurel Carpenter scored in the 64th minute off a feed from Latsko, and Roberson finished her hat trick with an unassisted goal in the 67th.
“It’s a good weapon to have in those girls,” Vereb said. “Right now, we’re not worried about scoring because it’s coming. I feel very confident we can put the goals on the board.”