South Xtra: Big Macs standout on target

GIRLS SOCCER

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Canon-McMillan girls soccer standout Veronica Rothka scored 22 regular-season goals.

Considering the type of player she is, that number is not surprising, but considering an early-season injury and the fact that Rothka only plays soccer three months out of the year, that number might surprise some.

Rothka missed five games this year with a concussion and unlike most of the top goal-scorers in the WPIAL, she is not a "full-time" soccer player. Rothka does not play cup soccer. In the spring she is a starting shortstop on the Big Macs softball team that won a WPIAL Class AAAA championship last May.

She enjoyed a taste of postseason success in the fall, too, scoring two goals and setting up a third in No. 13 Canon-McMillan's 3-1 upset win at Penn-Trafford Saturday. The Big Macs were scheduled to take on Gateway in the WPIAL quarterfinals Wednesday evening.

Rothka scored the first goal of the game, but the No. 4 seeded Warriors rallied back to tie the game 1-1. She then set up the game-winning goal on a pass to Abby Severyn before adding an insurance goal to make it 3-1.

The two postseason goals gave Rothka 24 on the season despite only playing 14 games.

"Scoring 24 goals is a real nice season, if she didn't get hurt she could have scored 30 goals," Canon McMillan coach Dave Derrico said. "We try to get her 'through balls,' she will make a diagonal run and that is where we hit her with the ball, that is the kind of ball she likes."

The Big Macs went 10-5-3 during the regular season. Rothka was injured in the first few minutes of a game against North Allegheny. Including that game, Canon McMillan went 2-3-1 with Rothka out of the lineup.

"When we didn't have Rothka, we were starting four juniors, six sophomores and a freshman and we had the hardest part of our season," Derrico said.

Rothka has been a starter since midway through her freshmen year. She played alongside senior forward Taylor Schram, the 2009 Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year. The two created a dynamic scoring duo.

"Taylor would send diagonal balls on the ground through to her," Derrico said. "Schram found Veronica all the time. They were a good team; it's a shame they didn't get to play longer together."

Rothka reminds Derrico of another Veronica and another Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year, Peters Township junior Veronica Latsko. With the top-seeded Indians on the same side of the bracket as Canon McMillan, Derrico did some advance scouting of Peters Township.

"Latsko is big, strong, fast and aggressive and just a perfect center striker," Derrico said. "She is hungry to score and that is what Veronica Rothka is for us."

Rothka is a senior captain this year. She was named a WPIAL all-star as a junior and this year as a senior.

With four of his players on the softball team, Derrico went to as many games as he could and even the soccer coach can appreciate Rothka's multi-sport ability.

"She hits well and fields well, she is a strong girl," Derrico said.

Although Derrico appreciates Rothka's ability on the softball diamond, he can't help but wonder what it would be like if Rothka played soccer year-round.

"I wonder how good she would be if she played cup soccer," Derrico said.

One thing there is no wondering about is that Rothka is one of the premier multi-sport athletes in the WPIAL.

hssoccer


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