South Xtra: Soccer star had a super sophomore year
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Honors keep piling up for Veronica Latsko, even though her varsity season ended last November.
In May Latsko, a rising junior at Peters Township High School, was named the Pennsylvania Gatorade Female Soccer Player of the Year. She had previously been named both the Post-Gazette's Female Soccer Player of the Year and South Xtra Player of the Year.
On Monday she found out she was named to the U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program Region I team, which will travel to Russia to compete against the best U-17 players in the world next spring.
Now comes this: Her selection as the Post-Gazette South Xtra's Female High School Athlete of the Year, an honor that takes into account girls playing sports at 30 WPIAL and City League schools.
Even among all the individual accolades both locally, statewide and nationally, Latsko cannot help but continue to gush about what her Peters Township varsity team accomplished in the fall of 2010 and '11 and what her club team, Century United, did this past spring.
Latsko and her Peters Township teammates became the first WPIAL school to win back-to-back PIAA girls' soccer championships. Her Century United team reached the Region I semifinals, the furthest level Latsko has reached in club soccer.
"Both my teams are my families," Latsko said. "My Century United team and my high school team. Winning with both of them is an amazing feeling. Going to Russia is fun and a great honor, but winning with my team is definitely the highest point."
Another thing that stands out among all of Latsko's statistics and achievements is everything done at Peters Township, the 33 goals as a freshman, the 45 goals as a sophomore, five consecutive games with a hat trick, all occurred while playing in Class AAA.
"I would never be able to do it without my team," Latsko said. "They practically earned me these awards, it was pretty much a team effort. I know they singled me out, but it wouldn't have been possible in any of the games without them."
Latsko was part of the US Youth Soccer ODP Region I team that traveled to Russia this past spring. The U.S. regional team played against national teams from North Korea, China, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine among other countries and finished fifth out of the 12 teams at the competition.
In the 2011 PIAA Class AAA girls' soccer championship it was none other than Latsko who scored the game-winner in a 1-0 victory against Pennridge.
"Obviously, our team played tremendously," Latsko's head coach at Peters Township, Pat Vereb, said. "But that individual moment, that was just Veronica at her best, just using her physical ability to fend off defenders."
Latsko is going to be a junior in the fall at Peters Township and the sky appears to be the limit.
"She could rank up there as one of the best to ever play in the area," Vereb said. "Soccer is very different in terms of comparing different positions, but as far as goal scorers, she is one of the best.
"There have been very few players like Veronica who have such a huge impact on a game and can take over a game. She is just a dynamic, superb athlete, she can change the game by herself."
Aside from her scholastic career with Peters Township, Latsko will travel to Russia for a second consecutive spring to play with the ODP team and continue to play club soccer with Century United while keeping the dream alive to try out for the U.S. National Team.
"The next step would be going to national camp," Latsko said. "It is pretty much every soccer player's goal to get pulled up to national camp."
Latsko was at the University of Rhode Island this weekend trying out for the ODP team. On her way home she stopped in Boston with her parents to look at schools. Needless to say Latsko keeps busy even when it is not the typical soccer season.
"That is why she is who she is," Vereb said. "She is not just sitting around. She keeps getting better."
Thursday, July 12, 2012
First Published July 12, 2012 12:00 am