Head coach Pat Vereb wanted the members of Peters Township’s girls soccer team to savor Tuesday’s win over Wilson in the PIAA Class AAA semifinals, but he also wanted the Indians to act like they had reached the state final before.
Because, as you may have heard, they have – every year since 2010.
“I told them they need to sort of relish the moment, but they’re very focused on what they’re doing,” Vereb said. “It says a lot for the program that there’s a level of excitement, but there’s also an understanding that there’s still more work to do.”
That work, if done in its entirety, will produce an awesome celebration.
And one Vereb sure won’t try to stop.
Peters Township (23-1) will play Cumberland Valley at Hersheypark Stadium today at 4 p.m., and the Eagles aren’t your average opponent; not only have they won the past two titles for spring girls soccer, they dealt the Indians their only loss of the year – 3-2 on Sept. 29 – after the home team blew a late two-goal lead.
“We sort of lost focus against Cumberland Valley the last 10 minutes, and they came back and beat us,” Vereb said.
Peters Township has rattled off 14 consecutive wins since the Cumberland Valley loss, only twice allowing more than one goal.
That includes a seven-match stretch in the postseason, where the Indians have outscored opponents, 15-3.
“I think it was a good thing for us,” Vereb said of the loss. “They’re certainly a quality team, and I think that we showed we could play with anybody in the state. But at the same time, I think losing that game probably brought us down a little bit.
“I think after awhile you probably start reading your own newspaper clippings and things of that nature. I think it was good to lose a game. You never like to lose, but sometimes there’s a good loss, maybe a lesson to be learned from it, that you’re never beyond getting beat.”
Look at what the Indians have done this postseason, and it looks as though the message has been received.
After netting the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL tournament, Peters Township beat Hampton (1-0) and Gateway (3-0) – both games where the opponent loaded up on defense – before defeating Seneca Valley in the championship game on a Veronica Latsko header with 27 seconds left in double overtime.
In the state tournament, Peters Township opened with a 3-2 win over Bethel Park, breaking open a 1-1 game in the second half, before gutting out a physical, 1-0 win over Seneca Valley in a rematch of the WPIAL final. Tuesday’s rout of Wilson delivered perhaps the Indians’ best performance of the postseason, with Latsko netting her sixth and seventh goals of these playoffs.
“I think we were ready for (Wilson),” Latsko said. “We knew what we had to do because we’ve experienced this before. We knew how to control our emotions in this environment.”
As the Indians’ actions – or lack of, really – could attest.
“It was sort comical,” Vereb said. “When the game ended, we didn’t have our jump-on-the-pile type of thing because I just think the girls are so focused on achieving their goals.”
Which, in this case, means getting even with Cumberland Valley.
By the numbers
Goal differential: 128-14
Average goals per game: 5.3
Veronica Latsko – 37 goals
Olivia Roberson – 37 goals
Emily Franty – 14 goals
Laurel Carpenter – 8 goals