Football is not the only scholastic sport kicking into high gear this weekend. Soccer also commences.
That’s great news for area fans, especially those that favor the red and the white of Peters Township.
The Indians will be one of the top teams in the state featured in the South Hills Classic played annually at the Century Field in Jefferson Hills. PT battles McDowell Aug. 30 and State College Aug. 31. Both games have a 2:30 p.m. start.
The round-robin tournament will also showcase Mt. Lebanon, Chartiers Valley, South Park, Mercyhurst Prep, Pine-Richland and Butler. Lebo faces P-R Aug. 30 and McDowell Aug. 31. Both games have a 6:30 p.m. kick-off. CV plays the Golden Tornado at 4:30 p.m. Friday and South Park at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. The Eagles play Prep Friday.
The PT girls are expected to be one of the top clubs in Pennsylvania because they return all but seven seniors from a team that participated in the WPIAL championships and reached the PIAA Final Four. After sharing the section crown with rival Upper St. Clair, PT posted an 18-5 overall record.
Though Regan LaVigna (19 goals) is now playing for Youngstown State University and Natalie Daube is competing at Michigan State, Hannah Stuck returns as one of the top offensive threats in the WPIAL. The senior tallied 16 goals and dished up 19 assists last season to raise her career totals to 55 goals and 38 assists.
Among the other senior veterans upon which head coach Pat Vereb will rely are: Mia Gentile, Rachel Raber and Kaila McFerran.
The Indians also have some talented young players in Jillian Marvin and CeCe Scott. As ninth-graders last year, they produced under pressure, account for several goals in PIAA wins against Cumberland Valley (18-2-2) and McDowell (17-3). Sarah Heisinger also contributed goals. She is now a sophomore.
Additionally, Emma Sawich returns. She was PT’s starter in goal when the Indians challenged for the WPIAL title.
“We have experience and athleticism,” said Vereb. “Those are our team’s strengths.”
Those assets should help the Indians as they endeavor to achieve their goals.
“The expectation is to make the playoffs and attempt to have a deep long run,” Vereb said.
However, it will be a challenge cautions Vereb.
“We compete in the best section the PIAA,” he said. “They are all tough opponents. We need to get better every day to compete in this section,” he added in order for the Indians to achieve their objectives this season.
Meanwhile, the Indians boys team must speed up the process for not long after they host Franklin Regional at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 31 in their own tournament, they take to the road, opening section action with archrivals Upper St. Clair at 8 p.m. Sept. 3 and at 7:45 p.m. Sept. 5 at Mt. Lebanon. Their home opener is at 7:45 p.m. Sept. 12 against Bethel Park.
“It’s a brutal section,” said head coach Bob Dyer, who also included Canon-McMillan as one of PT’s toughest league opponents.
Last year, the Indians finished third in the WPIAL’s Quad-A Section 2 with a 7-5 slate behind league-leading USC (10-1-1) and C-M (10-2). Peters Township finished 11-8 overall after losing to Norwin in the quarterfinals of the WPIAL playoffs.
“Our first goal is to qualify for the playoffs and compete for the section title,” Dyer said. In order to achieve those objectives he added, “We must stay disciplined in our brand of soccer and out work our opponents.
The Indians have the horses to do so. Although there were many “battles” for all positions during training camp, the Indians boast “depth” as its chief asset and plenty of experience as eight starters return. Among them are: forward Tyson Antosh; midfielders Nathan Farmer, Anthony Kita, Austin Marmol and Andrew Massucci; defenders Matt Daube and Zach Gallagher as well as goalkeeper Derek Liquori.
“We have a good core of veterans that are skilled,” Dyer said. “They should provide the work rate for a great core.”
In other opening action this weekend:
- Mt. Lebanon will compete in the East-West Classic at 7 p.m. Aug. 30 at Highmark Stadium. The Blue Devils will face Wilson (West Lawn) at 10 a.m. Aug. 31. Other teams competing in the annual event include: Quaker Valley, West Allegheny, Fleetwood and Exeter Township.
- The South Fayette and Bethel Park girls battle at high noon on Aug. 31 in the Avonworth Tournament. The Antelopes host Thomas Jefferson at 10 a.m.
- Chartiers Valley hosts the Intersection Tournament Aug. 30. The Colts face Seneca Valley at 8 p.m. while Baldwin takes on Norwin at 6 p.m.
- The Upper St. Clair boys will challenge Knoch at 5 p.m. Aug. 30 in the Pine-Richland Tournament. The Rams host Mars at 8:30 p.m. On Aug. 31, the Panthers take on Mars at 4:15 p.m. and the Rams battle Knoch at 7:15.
- Canon-McMillan hosts Ringgold at 10:45 a.m. Aug. 31.