Postseason prowess pays off as Peters Township ousts Latrobe in Class 4A quarters

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Thursday, October 28, 2021 | 10:48 PM


A truck carrying a ladder drifted into the lane occupied by the Peters Township girls soccer bus as the team traveled to its playoff game Thursday night.

The ladder clipped the side mirror of the bus and broke it off, causing the team to pull over.

Duct tape and some tongue depressors did the job for the ride home, securing the mirror into place.

The Lady Indians continued the whatever-it-takes theme in the game.

Freshman Camryn Klein and senior CeCe Scott scored second-half goals, both headers off corner kicks, as No. 6 seed Peters Township held back No. 3 Latrobe, 2-0, in a WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinal at windy Rossi Field.

“We were on the side of (Route) 70 for about 20 minutes, so we weren’t sure if we were going to get here,” Peters Township coach Pat Vereb said of the pregame situation. “You just have to get through it. I have been doing this a long time. … There are a lot of things you have to get through.

“I guess that’s our punishment for getting a coach bus.”

The Indians (11-3-3) took the goals and ran, considering the stellar play from Latrobe junior goalkeeper Sofia DeCerb, who made 11 saves, pawing and diving at most of the 16 shots she and her defenders faced.

Latrobe (13-2-1), an upswinging team that recently celebrated its first section title in 29 years, was looking for its first playoff win in program history. Watch out for them next year.

The Wildcats, who suffered their first loss at home this season, sat through a first-round bye before facing the Indians, a perennial contender who advances to play No. 2 Moon (14-1-1), a 1-0 winner over No. 7 Butler (13-4-2). It will be Peters Township’s fourth straight semifinal appearance.

“So many games are decided on set pieces,” Latrobe coach Jamie Morrison said. “I think it speaks volumes that, with such a young team and with the inexperience, that we were neck-and-neck with them. We hit the post two or three times, so it could have gone either way in terms of momentum swings from that.”

Latrobe managed just four shots on frame and had only two corner kicks to Peters Township’s nine.

The Indians cashed in on two of them, though, and that was all they needed. Junior Brooke Opferman assisted both goals, nestling the ball neatly in front while negotiating a swirling wind.

“We take a lot of pride on working on our set pieces,” Vereb said. “Their goalkeeper was outstanding. She is one of the best goalkeepers in the WPIAL, for sure. She was key today. We had to fight through it.”

After a scoreless first half, Kline knocked in the first goal in the 54th minute as Opferman sent the ball into her path.

“Scoring the first goal opened up the game a little bit,” Vereb said. “That’s a big moment for our freshman to head in a corner kick like that. She is fearless as a freshman.”

About seven minutes into the second half, though, Latrobe nearly went ahead first. Makenna Malone and Maddy Petruzzi ripped shots that hit the post in a flurry of attempts. But senior goalkeeper Emma Burrows kept the Wildcats quiet.

Instead, the Indians took charge behind Scott, a Duquesne commit who used her forehead to bump home another score in the 75th minute for a 2-0 lead.

“Peters is a big, physical team,” Morrison said. “We knew set pieces were going to be something that we were going to have to deal with. It’s unfortunate … through the run of play we hung with them and stayed strong and had our own chances on the other side. We gave them the opportunities, unfortunately, and they were able to slip a couple past us.”

Playoff experience can work wonders in the WPIAL bracket. If anyone know that, it’s a veteran coach such as Vereb.

“It helps that our girls have been in these moments before and have played in these types of games,” Vereb said. “(Latrobe) is definitely an up-and-coming team.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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