Peters Twp. completes three-peat
Indians do it again
Peters Township players celebrate Saturday as they hoist the PIAA championship trophy after defeating Cumberland Valley, 1-0, to capture their third straight state title in soccer. (Eleanor Bailey / The Almanac)
HERSHEY – With a loss to Cumberland Valley being the only one the Peters Township High School girls soccer team had suffered all year, one might think the Indians would review some game tape or talk about that defeat prior to Saturday’s PIAA Class AAA championship game.
Nah, wasn’t necessary.
That 3-2 setback Sept. 29 stuck with Peters Township all season – a group text message discussing its implications occurred that same night – and served as ample motivation, as the Indians got even with a 1-0 victory last night at Hersheypark Stadium.
More important, the win delivered Peters Township’s third consecutive PIAA Class AAA title, helping it become the first girls soccer team since Villa Joseph Marie (2000-02) to three-peat.
“Just the fact that they beat us early in the season, I felt that was enough motivation for us to come back and get on top this time,” said junior Emily Franty, who had the only goal of the game.
Peters Township finished the year at 24-1 after capturing WPIAL and PIAA titles.
Cumberland Valley (22-3-1) had won the past two spring state titles for girls soccer, and the Eagles served notice to the rest of the state when they scored twice in the final 10 minutes to stun Peters Township on the road.
But while that loss was certainly unsettling, the Indians were fine with the effort, save for that final 10-minute stretch.
“We definitely talked about [the loss],” senior Olivia Roberson said. “The whole team was in a big group text, talking to each other like, ‘Guys, this is important to be able to feel this and know that we don’t want to be here again.’
“We pushed each other so we didn’t have to feel that again.”
Franty gave Peters Township a 1-0 lead when she finished a cross from Roberson in the 45 minute. Franty chipped a looping shot over Cumberland Valley goalkeeper Dani Shambaugh.
The play was started with Roberson, who scored 37 goals this season, initiating a give-and-go with Latsko, then finding Franty on a run in the middle of the box.
“She was in front of the defender and placed it home,” Roberson said. “Probably one of our prettiest goals of the year.”
Saturday’s showdown started out a bit slow, with neither team wanting to take too many chances, and the result was a scoreless opening half.
Franty had a decent scoring opportunity only a few minutes in off of an earlier cross from Latsko but couldn’t convert.
Veronica Latsko, who took a kick to the face about 10 minutes in, had a fantastic effort in the 56th minute, as she cut left around two Cumberland Valley defenders to find some open space. But Latsko’s left-footed feed to Roberson had a little too much on it.
Goalkeeper Carly Johns earned the shutout – her fifth of the playoffs and third straight – to cap a year where she shifted to goalkeeper after Peters Township’s starter, Megan Parker, suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Little changed from the first meeting to this one, both coaches said, with the exception of Peters Township staying active and not sitting back on defense late.
“We didn’t want to go into too much of a defensive shell, which is what we did the last time, and I think it worked against us,” Indians coach Pat Vereb said. “We tried to stay a little bit on the attack this time around and did a good job of keeping the ball in their end the last 15 minutes.”
Peters Township will graduate nine seniors from this year’s team, a group that can lay claim to 86 wins, two WPIAL titles and three PIAA crowns, that last category including one that also included a measure of revenge.
“We knew we could do it,” Roberson said. “We just had to prove it today.”