South Xtra: Peters' Latsko a repeat winner of district honor

FEMALE HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETE OF THE YEAR


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In three years of high school soccer nobody has been able to stop Veronica Latsko.

But on May 19 Latsko, in effect, stopped herself. She sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during a State Cup Championship game.

Latsko, who will be a senior at Peters Township High School in the coming school year, had surgery on June 5 and her senior year is in jeopardy. Even if she is not able to play her senior year, Latsko has perhaps already accomplished more in her three-year high school career than any WPIAL girls' soccer player ever.

Latsko has scored 107 goals and led Peters Township to three consecutive PIAA Class AAA championships. She is a two-time Post-Gazette player of the year, an All-American and a two-time Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year.

This week Latsko was also named the Post-Gazette South Xtra Female High School Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row.

"I get asked the question a lot: Is she the best ever to come out of this area," Peters Township girls' soccer coach Pat Vereb said. "As far as making an impact on the game, she is the best to play in this area. Nobody has ever stopped her in her three-year career, not in section play, WPIAL play or anybody we have played at states.

"When you talk about a player making an impact, she is clearly the best player ever to play in this area."

Latsko has already earned a scholarship to the University of Virginia.

"I am so excited," Latsko said of playing in college. "I have been excited since last year at this time. I am ready to play."

Latsko is also not ruling out a chance she can return to her Peters Township team this season and seek an unprecedented fourth consecutive state title. She was given a six-month timetable by her doctors to return to the field following her June 5 surgery. Her doctor also performed a similar surgery on Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller, who sustained a similar injury. Miller was able to return in four and a half months.

"The injury is disappointing." Latsko said. "There is a slim chance I can make it back this season. It is something to work toward, just trying to stay positive."

She is the first girls' soccer player in Pennsylvania to be named Gatorade Player of the Year twice and only the fourth winner from the WPIAL along with Taylor Schram of Canon-McMillan in 2009, Meghan Schnur of Butler in 2003 and Heather Rice of Fox Chapel in 1999.

"She has done as much for this program as any high school player can do for their team," Vereb said. "The time and memories she has given us will not be forgotten. She is well on her way to a greater, more important part of her soccer career."

This past season Latsko scored 40 goals while also adding 22 assists. She is quick to pass the ball to teammates and to deflect praise to teammates as well.

"The individual accolades aren't really individual," Latsko said. "I would never be able to do it without my teammates. I am just the person who stands there and kicks it in the goal. It is sad that the other behind-the-scenes players don't get recognized. Every girl on the team deserves to be an All-American."

As far as team accomplishments, Latsko points to the WPIAL championship double-overtime win against Seneca Valley last season as her fondest memory along with being a member of the No. 1-ranked high school girls team in the nation by MaxPreps last season.

"We had to go through so much before we finally got the goal [against Seneca Valley]," Latsko said. "It showed how hard we worked during the preseason. We were the last team standing because of our work ethic."

Soccer has been a big part of Latsko's life since an early age.

"I have always played soccer -- my parents never really gave me much of a choice, they were afraid I would get hurt in other sports," Latsko said.

"Soccer is a sport I love. I just practiced a lot and it is something that I love to do. It's like anything else, if you love something that much, you gradually become better."

hsother - hssoccer

First Published July 11, 2013 4:00 AM


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