HERSHEY – While her teammates were taking photos adjacent to the stands at Hersheypark Stadium, Peters Township junior Veronica Latsko was busy surveying the damage.
A bump here, a bruise there. Cuts and scrapes everywhere. Oh, and the kicker: a boot to the face about 10 minutes into the Peters Township girls soccer team’s 1-0 victory Saturday over Cumberland Valley in the PIAA Class AAA championship game.
It was a physical – and painful – postseason for Latsko, but the WPIAL’s first lady of soccer surely had one to remember, scoring seven goals in seven matches, all of them wins, as the Indians (24-1) won their third consecutive state title.
“It’s been a rough go, but it’s been worth it,” Latsko said. “A third title is worth every bruise, every cut and every kick.”
Latsko, a Virginia-bound junior who finished with 37 goals this season and has 128 for her career, said teams have defended her differently this postseason, often with a stopper marking her and the sweeper further out.
“They’ve liked to pack it in and count on the counter,” Latsko said.
After Latsko scored twice during a 3-2 loss to Cumberland Valley on Sept. 29, Eagles coach Seth Lehman knew to pay more attention to Latsko this time around.
“I thought we made a great adjustment on making sure Latsko wouldn’t be the girl who beat us,” Lehman said. “She’s a world-class player. She’s phenomenal. She’s dangerous no matter where she touches the ball, but I think Kaylie Cutlip did a great job limiting her to the few chances that she did have.”
Latsko was still involved in several plays, but the game’s only goal came when Emily Franty finished a cross from Olivia Roberson in the 45th minute.
That, of course, was infinitely more enjoyable than when Latsko cut through Cutlip and Emily Keitel about 10 minutes in, was knocked over and went tumbling to the ground.
She stayed there for about 15 seconds and before staggering to her feet and clutching her jaw.
“That,” Latsko said, “was a pretty rough game.”
But, like the others before it, an enjoyable one.