Joe Tuscano | Observer Reporter
One tiny mistake, a sloppy clear in front of the net, was all it took.
That’s usually all it takes to decide a winner when the Peters Township and Upper St. Clair girls soccer teams get together.
One goal was the difference the previous two times these teams met, and that’s what separated them on a raw Thursday night at Chartiers Valley High School.
Jane Madson, a junior midfielder, controlled the poor clear and sent a shot past goalkeeper Emma Sawich to give Upper St. Clair a 1-0 victory over Peters Township in the Class 4A quarterfinals of thee WPIAL soccer playoffs.
Peters Township ended the season with a 15-4 record. Upper St. Clair moved to the semifinals with a 10-5-2 record and in need of one more win to earn a berth in the PIAA playoffs.
Upper St. Clair defeated Peters Township 1-0 in McMurray in the first meeting and Peters Township evened the season series with a 2-1 win on the Panthers’ turf.
“A lot of times that first goal sets the tone for the game,” said Peters Township head coach Pat Vereb. “It might be someone left unmarked. They took the momentum from there. I thought we lost the game in the first 10 minutes, when we had really good chances but didn’t score.”
A poor clearing attempt in front of the Peters Township net created the first score. The ball slithered out to the 12-yard mark and Madson released a right-footed shot that found the left side of the net.
“Jane has a ton of pace,” said USC head coach David Gray. “She is able to score goals for us for sure. She got an opportunity for us and took advantage of it.”
Peters Township was strong on the attack early, but couldn’t produce a goal.
Sarah Heisinger appeared to have a goal, when the ball found her foot off a scramble but defender Veronica Gibbons slid into Heisinger, knocking away the chance.
Heisinger had an opportunity earlier in the half, racing in from the right side and sending a shot that goalkeeper Jill Rocco made a nice save.
“You don’t know where it’s going from there,” Vereb said. “You get a couple good looks and you don’t score, from there you are hoping not to make another mistake. You are asking your goalkeeper to play perfect.”
“The first 10 minutes, they absolutely had the better of us,” Gray said. “They pressed, created opportunities. But after the first 10 minutes, I thought we settled in and played quite nicely.”
Peters Township pressured early but could shake the USC defenders, Madson broke free on a steal and sent a shot in the goalkeeper Emma Sawich made an exceptional save.