Seneca Valley wins on late goal for Class AAA soccer title

CLASS AAA GIRLS

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Seneca Valley sophomore midfielder Caroline Miller never imagined she would find herself in such a spot.

But there she was, with a little more than three minutes remaining in the scoreless Class AAA WPIAL final, standing just inside the Peters Township far post, teammate Alicia Hart's descending cross coming closer and closer.

"No, never. I would never think that [I'd have the opportunity]," Miller said. "It was a surprise. But I'm happy I did it."

Surprised or not, Miller didn't miss. Her point-blank header made it 1-0, and that lead held up against defending champion Peters Township (16-5-1) as Seneca Valley (18-2-1) earned its first WPIAL title since 2008 and third in its history.

"It's amazing, it's the best feeling in the world," she said. "I can't even describe it."

Last season, Peters Township took home the title, their second in three years, winning, 2-1, on Veronica Latsko's header in double-overtime. But Latsko, now a senior and one of the Indians' top players, missed most of this season with an injury. Despite being named to the starting lineup, she didn't play in the Indians' sixth consecutive appearance in the finals.

Play was relatively even much of the first half, but Seneca Valley's depth became a key factor as the game wore on. Substitutions were constant, with as many as three players subbing at a time.

"They just pressed, they wore us out basically," said Peters Township coach Pat Vereb. "You continue to give up corner kicks and throw-ins and, eventually, it can haunt you."

Despite producing a constant supply of shots, most of the opportunities resulted in near-misses, making overtime loom more likely by the second. But, with time winding down, Miller changed that.

"We had a lot of good chances," said Seneca Valley coach Dave Sylvester

Sylvester, in his 13th year at Seneca Valley, has been at the helm for each of the Raiders' WPIAL titles. Despite that, he said the pure emotion of bringing home a championship never fades.

"How does it feel?" Sylvester said with a smile, pumping his fist.

"I had tears in my eyes. ... I'm just so happy for them, you have no idea."


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