Adam Brewer | Observer Reporter
Deja Vu is a funny thing.
If it works in your favor, it’s a beautiful feeling. If it doesn’t go your way, it can be utterly, gut-wrenching.
The Peters Township girls soccer team had a 1-0 lead for the majority of its PIAA Class 4A semifinal match against Souderton at Chambersburg High School.
But Souderton scored with 11 seconds left in regulation then pulled out a 2-1 victory with the game-winner at the 7:05 mark of the first overtime.
PT held a 1-0 lead in the WPIAL finals against Seneca Valley, but the same misfortune hit. The Raiders scored the tying goal with three seconds left in the second half, then followed that with the game-winner 1:40 into overtime.
“This one is tough to take,” PT coach Pat Vereb said. “I thought we battled hard the whole match and didn’t give them a lot of chances. We put ourselves in a good position to win. Both goals, tonight and in the WPIAL finals, were just strange goals. The ball just bounced directly to the other team late. It just seems like fate was against us for some reason.”
The heartbreaking, semifinal loss ends Peters Township’s sensational season amidst several obstacles for the young squad to get to the round of four in the state.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this group,” Vereb said. “We are the last team standing in District 7 and we have fought through so much this fall with injuries and tough losses. These girls just overcame those obstacles.”
PT (18-5) was looking for its fifth appearance in the final since 2003 and its first since 2012. PT has posted a 24-8 record in the state playoffs since 2003.
Souderton (16-3-6) got the two goals in the game from sophomore Averie Doughty.
“I told Averie before the game she owed me two goals tonight,” Souderton coach Todd Andrade said. “I didn’t think she would wait so long. I have known her since she was 6-years old and she is just a gutsy kid. She never quit on plays. She is so mentally tough for us.”
The District 1 runner-up will play the third-place team in District 1, Pennridge, a 1-0 winner over Ephrata, in the state finals Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.
“We put an extra forward up top in the second half, but it just seemed like nothing was going our way,” Andrade said. “We had some calls go against us. Peters has a tremendous defense and it was tough to break through. When we got that late goal in regulation, I just had a gut feeling we were going to win this one in overtime.”
PT controlled the play in the first half with a 7-3 advantage in shots and clung to a 1-0 lead after a goal by Jillian Marvin at the 21:14 mark of the first.
The marker was Marvin’s third of the playoffs and it also was the eighth straight goal scored by an underclassman for Peters Township this postseason.
Both teams exchanged chances to start the second half, but the PT defense and goalkeeper Emma Sawich preserved the shutout and displayed excellent play in front of the net.
With time slipping away for Souderton, which last Saturday rallied and won in penalty kicks over Seneca Valley in the quarterfinals, the veteran group consisting of 12 seniors never panicked.
Doughty was able to play an awkward ball off a bounce in front of the net for the tying goal then was able to find more space off a free kick attempt for a rebound goal halfway through overtime.
“We really didn’t let them see the goal very much,” Vereb said. “We communicated well and took away their space in the offensive end. Those last two goals were just on awkward, high bounces that we couldn’t get to. Sometimes, that just happens in soccer.”
PT will lose seven seniors, three of whom started, but will have a lot of youth with postseason experience coming back on their roster in 2019.
“Our senior class was great,” Vereb said. “The saying goes, ‘You have to leave the program better than you found it.’ Making it to the WPIAL finals and being a state semifinalist is a great accomplishment. Our younger kids know what it takes now to play at this level, and I think this year was beneficial to our program.”