Remember the echo-like sounds of a cafeteria filled with spirited high school students? It seems that hasn't changed or diminished at
Peters Township High School
in McMurray, Pa. Perhaps it is especially true on a wintry February afternoon when lunchtime activities are preceding a pep rally that will honor the girls varsity soccer team. The honor is part of the 2nd Annual MaxPreps Girls Soccer Tour of Champions presented by the Army National Guard.
Peters Township is one of just 10 teams being honored with presentation of the "Minuteman" trophy. With a PIAA state championship and a 25-1 season, the Indians finished No.1 in the country by the MaxPreps Freeman Rankings, which rank more than 10,000 high school girls soccer teams.
This was the third consecutive state championship for the Indians, but many describe it as the first "true" championship since this year the state played girls soccer entirely in the fall rather than split with a spring season. The team's only loss this season came against Cumberland Valley in late September. But the Indians had an opportunity to avenge that loss in the championship match by winning 1-0. Sweet victory!
On this day, Staff Sergeant Brandon Crawford and Staff Sergeant Patrick Burgess of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard sat just outside the school cafeteria, enthusiastically engaging students in conversation and showing off the trophy. We were pulled in by the wares on their table….pens and caps, and even a tote bag that couples the Army National Guard with the Pittsburgh Steelers! Just before the pep rally began, both staff sergeants were pleased to hand out commemorative Tour of Champions t-shirts to the girls, who were quite obviously excited to celebrate their outstanding season.
As the pep rally drew closer, students, teachers and parents filed into the gymnasium. Emceeing the event were two outstanding students chosen by Athletic Director Brian Geyer. Presenting the Army National Guards national ranking trophy to Coach Vereb was Army National Guard Lieutenant Jared Weber. Lieutenant Weber displayed his own pride as he described the symbolism of the award – the indomitable spirit shared by high school athletes and the U.S. soldier. The award is an honor intended to be shared with the team, coaches, school, families and community. It is noteful that the seniors on this team finished their high school play career with an 87-9-3 record, 3 section 4 titles, 2 WPIAL silver medals and 3 state championships! Head coach Pat Vereb summed it up best by saying, "I am so excited to be honored by MaxPreps and the Army National Guard. This is especially significant since we are a western Pennsylvania team and geographically we are not known for soccer. There is no better way for the senior class to end it than with this honor."
Following the Minuteman presentation, Coach Vereb and the team were also presented with a citation from the State of Pennsylvania by Pennsylvania State Senator Matt Smith of the 37th Senate District. The award ceremony, covered by two of the three nationally-affiliated local news stations — WPXI and WTAE, was a great experience for the players and everyone who celebrated with them.