Last Monday, Sept. 24, the Upper St. Clair girls soccer team played the two-time defending state champion Peters Township Indians. Peters Township basically returned all of their starters from last year’s team, including the Gatorade PA Player of the year, junior Veronica Latsko and Duquesne recruit Olivia Roberson. The girl’s task was difficult, coming into the game Peters had outscored their opponents 49-2 in their first seven games. To add more fuel to the Peters’ fire, revenge from their loss to USC in the WPIAL finals last year was on their mind. The fire burned brightly in the opening minutes of play as Peters struck early on a goal from Roberson that began from a corner kick. About 10 minutes later, Latsko scored one of the best goals to date against USC as she dribbled through traffic and fired a left-footed shot into the upper left corner of the goal, demonstrating how she earned her scholarship to the University of Virginia. Petersadded a third goal before the half to put them up 3-0.
Despite marking Latsko with a dedicated defender and playing a 4-back defensive system for the first time all year, Peters' 1st half was impressive. In the second half, however, the girls regrouped and played Peters even, creating scoring opportunities and demonstrated that they have the ability to compete with Peters the next time they meet at 8 p.m. on Oct 10 at USC. Many observers remarked on the USC strategy to mark Latsko throughout the game; however few noticed that Peters made their own adjustments by moving one of their stronger midfielders, Laurel Carpenter, to defense to reduce any threats generated by offensive weapon Carly Bogan. The girls left Peters with a 3-0 loss, but with optimism for the next matchup.
On Wednesday, the Norwin Knights made the long mid-week trip to USC for a competitive non-section game between two top 10 teams. In an evenly-matched game with limited highlights, USC had the better of the play in the first half and Emma Hasco put the Panthers on the scoreboard first with a goal assisted from Olivia Belack.
In the second half the Norwin girls applied more of the pressure and got a goal off of a long run down the sideline which was centered and not quite cleared before the Norwin attacker scored. The game went into overtime on the foggy evening with no further scoring ending in a 1-1 tie.
On Saturday morning, section rival Canon-McMillan visited USC Stadium with both teams looking for a victory to celebrate at their respective Homecoming dances that evening.
After a relatively even scoreless first half, USC opened the scoring with a goal from the head of Emma Hasco that was setup by a cross from defender Julia de la Parra. The lead would not hold though, as Canon Mac’s Forward Veronica Rothka broke free from midfield and finished with a goal to even the game up. The two overtime sessions saw spectacular goalkeeping work from USC’s Jocelyn Alfera and Canon-McMillan’s Kyra Murphy and as a result the game ended in another 1-1 tie.
Hungry for a win, the girls traveled to storied Cupples Stadium to face the Brashear Bulls. After a sluggish start, the scoring was started by Emma Hasco from close range off an Olivia Belack assist. Then a few moments later, Brashear mounted a counter attack which tied the game up at 1-1 and seemed to wake up the USC team. Before the half ended, Ellie DiNardo put USC back in the lead with a goal assisted by Hasco. The half ended at 2-1, an unexpectedly close game, given the girls defeated Brashear earlier in the season 7-0. After the break, the Panthers appeared to be playing at a better level and Olivia Belack scored off a Carley Bogan assist, followed by another Hasco goal also assisted by Carley Bogan. Senior Carley Bogan leads the team in total points thus far in the season, with 18 points (7 goals, 11 assists).
The final goal was knocked home by Brianna Erdman off a Belack shot that had deflected from the crossbar finishing the scoring in the 5-1 game. On a defensive note, goalkeeper Jocelyn Alfera made a splendid save on a penalty kick that would have tightened the game and senior Ashley Lahr added a spark making some nice runs from the defensive position to apply pressure on Brashear.
The girls’ next game is Wednesday night at home against the Laurel Highlands Mustangs at 8 p.m.