Peters Twp. aims for state’s first double
Peters Township accomplished a rare feat by putting both its boys’ and girls’ soccer teams into the PIAA Class AAA championship game.
In fact, their wins in Tuesday’s semifinals sent a wave of pride through the school and the soccer-mad community.
“It’s been great because we have a lot of support — from the students, the faculty, the other coaches, they’ve just really gotten behind these kids,” Peters Township athletic director Rich Relich said. “We’re in the midst of putting some buses together for the trip out there, and our booster club has been great and done an outstanding job supporting the teams and with all the work they’ve put in.”
With that in mind, Peters Township has an opportunity to do something that’s never been done — win both state titles in the same year.
“It’s just incredible. I don’t even have any words,” Peters Township girls’ goalkeeper Megan Junker said. “No girls team in Peters history has ever made it to states, so it’s huge. And as a school, it’s just incredible.”
Only twice previously has one school had contestants in both boys’ and girls’ championship games in the same year. The PIAA only added a state title for girls’ soccer in 1992, while boys have been vying at the state level since 1973.
In 1995 Erie McDowell became the first school to send both teams to state title games and the results fell far short of expectation. The boys team was blown out 8-0 in the Class AAA title game by Strath Haven, while the girls dropped a 1-0 decision to Henderson.
Both the winners were out of District 1 and the games were played at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona.
A year later it was Quaker Valley’s turn, and the Quakers fared a bit better. The boys defeated Wyomissing, 1-0, for their fourth Class AA title in six seasons, while the girls lost, 4-0, to perennial contender Villa Joseph Marie. Both games were held at Messiah College in Grantham.
To make sure that doesn’t happen this time around, Peters Township is taking every precaution to make sure there are no outside distractions to interfere with either team’s ultimate goal.
“We’re going to keep them as far apart as possible,” Peters Township girls coach Pat Vereb said. “We’re both there to win our own separate championship, and it’s a great moment in the program and the fans will be there and it’s a great experience. We love the boys’ program and they love us, and it will be great for the Peters soccer community, but you’re going there to win a championship, not take a trip.”
Unlike the girls team, which is making its first-ever trip to Hershey, the boys have been here before. The Indians are, in fact, the defending state champions and have a rematch with Downingtown West.
Peters Township won last year’s game, 2-1, in overtime.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game,” Relich said. “They’re a really good team and they have nine starters back from last year.”