Jason Mackey | Observer Reporter
By halftime of the Peters Township girls soccer team’s 3-0 win Monday over visiting Upper St. Clair, all three of the Indians’ forwards had scored. Peters Township also had forced the Panthers to adjust their style of play-putting 10 players behind the ball, having forward Emma Hasco mark Virginia recruit Veronica Latsko-only to have the Indians maintain total control of the match. And this, mind you, was supposed to be close, the rematch of last year’s WPIAL Class AAA final.
“Our opponents can’t just focus on one player and mark her out of the game,” Peters Township coach Pat Vereb said. “Having the balance helps because it can come from anywhere on any given night. That’s probably the most beneficial thing, and we’re spoiled to have it.”
For Peters Township this season, very little has been close-unless you set the over/under for the Indians’ goal total in the double digits. The Indians, who improved to 5-0 in Section 5-AAA and 8-0 overall, have now outscored those opponents 52-2.
“”This is our second year of playing together, all three of us up top,”” junior forward Emily Franty said of a group that includes herself, Latsko and Duquesne recruit Olivia Roberson. “”We really have a rhythm together.”
That rhythm was good enough to defeat the Panthers (4-1, 6-2), who upset Peters Township, 3-2, for the Class AAA title last year. Though the Indians exacted a measure of revenge with a 1-0 victory in the PIAA Class AAA semifinals, playing Upper St. Clair will always be special, Latsko insisted.
“We haven’t forgotten that WPIAL game. We never will,” Latsko said. “We’re just going to keep bringing it to them every time.”
And it didn’t take long on this night. Roberson gave the Indians a 1-0 lead in the second minute of the match off an assist from Franty, with the corner kick started by senior Rachel Troscinski. Latsko made it 2-0 with a fantastic individual effort in the 10th minute, driving a left-footed blast from 15 yards into the upper-left corner of the goal.
Was the highlight-reel goal intentional? Hardly. “I was just trying to shoot the ball,” Latsko said. “I didn’t really think about it all that much.” Upper St. Clair coach Dave Gray was considerably more impressed.
“That’s Veronica being Veronica,” Gray said. “Two people on her, makes two cuts, hits a great ball in the upper corner. What a great goal.”
A turning feed from Latsko clanked off the crossbar in the 25th minute before Franty finished a cross from Latsko in the 34th. Goalkeeper Carly Johns made a fantastic, two-handed stop to preserve the shutout, robbing Upper St. Clair’s Carley Bogan from point-blank range in the 70th minute for her second save of the night. Roberson now has a team high 18 goals while Latsko has 15 and Franty six.
With basically nine starters back from last year’s state championship team, it’s not hard to tell that Peters Township’s players are more than a little used to each other. And winning.
“We’re all familiar playing with each other, so we know how to connect passes and get around players easily,” Latsko said. “It’s a great combination with all of us.”