South Xtra: Roberson fills her role well for Peters
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It is easy to be overlooked when a player is competing on a soccer powerhouse such as the Peters Township High School girls team alongside the Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year.
Many long shadows are cast by the Indians, who have won three section titles, two WPIAL titles and two PIAA titles in the past three seasons. They feature junior forward Veronica Latsko, a player who piled up goals and player of the year trophies around the state.
But this season, senior forward Olivia Roberson stepped out of the shadows in a big way, scoring 37 goals to lead all scorers in WPIAL Class AAA.
Any chance of Roberson being overlooked this season went by the wayside when she was filling up the net in a big way for Peters Township (23-1), which routed West Lawn Wilson, 5-0, Tuesday to advance to the state title game.
Roberson was inexplicably off of a lot of teams' radar earlier in her career with so much attention being paid to Latsko and other weapons coach Pat Vereb has at his disposal.
That quickly changed.
"Olivia has done very, very well," Vereb said. "Certainly earlier in the year she was not getting a lot of attention, but now that she led Triple-A in scoring, she is on everybody's radar. They were no longer just preparing for Veronica, they were preparing for both."
In Roberson's four seasons with the program, Peters Township is 85-9-5. They have played in the WPIAL finals all four seasons and after Tuesday night's victory they are making their third consecutive trip to the PIAA final and potentially an unprecedented third consecutive PIAA championship.
"It is definitely crazy being able to look back and seeing all the medals," Roberson said.
Combined this regular season, Latsko and Roberson scored 65 goals. Latsko has already committed to play at University of Virginia while Roberson has committed to play at Duquesne.
"They really do complement each other," Vereb said. "Veronica is more of a game-breaker, very, very fast and strong and physical. Olivia is very, very skilled in the way she does things and she is quite capable of creating her own opportunities."
Roberson agreed: "I think we play very differently. Veronica plays very direct and she knows I can get the ball to her. I think we both know where we are going, we can find each other, we just know each other's strengths."
Peters Township has shut out 13 opponents this season. A lot of that has to do with Latsko and Roberson. Not only are they busy scoring goals, but other teams typically devote a lot of their manpower to defense to slow down the dynamic duo.
"A lot of teams that play us, play us very defensively," Vereb said. "Some of the games in the postseason have been low scoring because of that. They are playing us defensively but at the same time it negates our opponent's ability to score goals."
Along with being named Pennsylvania Gatorade Female Soccer Player of the Year, Latsko was also named Post-Gazette South Xtra Female Athlete of the Year, an award that takes into account girls playing all sports at 30 WPIAL and City League schools.
"I get excited when I see my teammates in the paper," Roberson said. "Seeing Veronica getting a lot of things written about her, it is exciting and [after the PIAA quarterfinals] our goalie got her first newspaper interview, we were all cheering for her."
Roberson chose Duquesne over the University of Pittsburgh and Johns Hopkins University.
"I knew I wanted to look at Division I schools," Roberson said. "I'm the only athlete in my family but my mom, dad and sister all went to Duquesne and when I went to visit and walked on campus and met the team and the coaches, I felt real comfortable."
First Published November 15, 2012 12:00 am