PIAA Girls' Soccer Championships: District trio hunt state crowns
Moon defender Sydney Schipani, left, and Yough forward Hannah Ponitz fight for possesion Oct. 24 in a WPIAL Class AA quarterfinal at Chartiers Valley High School.
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The PIAA Class AAA championship match will provide two of the rarest occurrences in high school sports.
When Peters Township heads to Hershey for Saturday's state title match, it will be seeking its third consecutive PIAA championship, a rarity in the state for any sport.
But here's the real oddity -- the Indians will be doing so in a clash of state champions.
The Indians (23-1) will take on Cumberland Valley (22-2-1), the fourth-place team from District 3, at 4 p.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.
The PIAA Class AAA title game is a "unification bout" of sorts and a unique situation as both Cumberland Valley and Peters Township are reigning PIAA champions.
Peters Township won the fall state title last year and Cumberland Valley won the spring state title. This is the first season when all girls soccer programs in the state are competing during the fall season.
On top of that, the teams played each other already this season. With District 3 moving to a fall schedule this year, Peters Township coach Pat Vereb took the opportunity to put Cumberland Valley on the schedule.
Cumberland Valley, located in Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County, rallied from a 2-0 deficit to surprise the host Indians, 3-2. Cumberland Valley is the only team to defeat Peters Township this season.
The Indians have played for more championships in the past five seasons than any program in the state. They have been to five consecutive WPIAL finals (winning two) and four PIAA finals in five years (winning two).
Vereb and the Indians are not ready to reflect on their achievements just yet.
"The message to the team is: 'Continue to focus, get as many medals as you can,'" Vereb said. "Pick up the medals now and maybe 10 years later look back at all of the accomplishments.
"But right now, let's not stop."
Peters Township is led by its two top goal scorers, junior Veronica Latsko, a University of Virginia recruit, and senior Olivia Roberson, a Duquesne University recruit. The duo combined to score 65 goals during the regular season.
Moon is now one step away from conquering its new classification.
Playing its first season in Class AA after being a perennial Class AAA contender, Moon (23-2) has advanced to the PIAA final where it will face District 12 champion Archbishop Wood (18-2-2) at 11 a.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.
Archbishop Wood is located in Warminster, Bucks County, about 7 miles north of Philadelphia.
It will be the third consecutive Catholic school the Tigers will play after eliminating District 3 champion Trinity from Camp Hill near Harrisburg in the quarterfinals and District 10 champion Mercyhurst Prep of Erie in the semifinals.
It was Mercyhurst Prep that upset WPIAL champion Mars, the reigning PIAA Class AA champions and the only Class AA team to defeat Moon this year.
The Tigers had little trouble with Mercyhurst Prep -- a 6-0 victory -- as Antonia Grese had her second hat trick of the season in an easy win Tuesday night. Marissa Clough added three assists for Moon. The Tigers have never won a PIAA title and previously played in the state final in 2004 and 2006.
Perhaps no team has been under more pressure than Greensburg Central Catholic during the past three seasons.
PIAA titles seem to be the expectation around the program, which is loaded with potentital Division I talent. Now the Centurions will finally get to play for that coveted state title.
After losing in the WPIAL semifinals in 2010 and a stunning upset in the PIAA semifinals in 2011, Greensburg Central Catholic mounted a furious rally Tuesday night in the semifinals to avoid another upset, scoring two goals with 10 minutes left in regulation to tie section rival Shady Side Academy and then pulling out a 5-4 edge to win the match in a shootout.
Greensburg Central advances to play District 12 champion Conwell-Egan Catholic (11-6-1) in the PIAA final at 5 p.m. today at Hersheypark Stadium. Conwell-Egan is located in Fairless Hills, northeast of Philadelphia.
It will be the first state final for Greensburg Central Catholic since 2006. The Centurions (22-1) captured the WPIAL championship earlier this postseason.
Greensburg Central is led by its dynamic duo of juniors, Frannie Crouse (53 goals, 20 assists) and Malea Fabean (34 goals, 32 assists).
"I have high expectations for the team," Greensburg Central coach Ashley Shasko said. "They have high expectations for themselves. No matter what anyone says, we have more internal pressure than external pressure."
First Published November 16, 2012 12:00 am