Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

All-American on the Mend

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

All-American on the Mend

Article excerpt

After the initial shock and pain of the injury, the confirmation from doctors and the realization that she'd be sitting out for an extended period of time, Veronica Latsko still had one more phone call to make.

Already committed to play college soccer at Division I power Virginia, Latsko was about to call her future coach to tell him the bad news: her ACL was torn.

Phoning over to England, where her coach was for a tournament, Latsko feared for the worst. What if he was mad? Or worse, what if he revoked the scholarship?

But when he answered the phone, Latsko was surprised: he already knew. He wasn't mad, and she definitely still had her scholarship.

"I was so scared. It's scary just calling a college coach and saying you had a major injury and have to be out for a year," Latsko said. "But [Virginia coach] Steve Swanson is one of the nicest, most supportive coaches I have ever known. He was very supportive through the entire thing. He said I still have my spot and everything's fine."

That sigh of relief has made this summer easier for the Peters Township All-American, who is one of the most decorated girls soccer players in WPIAL history. Her 107 goals have led Peters Township to three consecutive PIAA titles. She is a two-time Post-Gazette Player of the Year and a two-time Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year, but now describes her current exercise limit as "walking briskly."

She puts on socks and cleats and walks around the field as her teammates practice, nearly three months removed from surgery. Her coach, Pat Vereb, doesn't make her come to practice but she shows up at every one, all on her own.

"Because I love this team. They're a family," Latsko said. "Every year it's a new batch of kids that you just click with, instantly. It's awesome."

Latsko had been playing center striker in the team's 4-3-3 lineup. Vereb still hasn't decided what formation suits his team best in Latsko's absence, but has adopted a philosophy of another Pittsburgh coach: "It's just next man up," Vereb said, "like Mike Tomlin says."

Players who will need to step up in Latsko's absence are senior Emily Franty and junior Maddie Santo. …

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