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Norwin scores important overtime win over Franklin Regional

| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 9:01 p.m.
Norwin's Marissa Antrilli (4) heads the ball in front of Franklin Regional's Bria McMahon (30) during a game in North Huntingdon on October 3, 2012. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Franklin Regional's Katie Gvozden (right) heads the ball in front of Norwin's Marlee Bivens during a game in North Huntingdon on Oct. 3, 2012. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Norwin's Kensey Johnson (3) and Franklin Regional's Courtney Hanchey (10) fight for possession during a game in North Huntingdon on October 3, 2012. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review

Norwin stayed on track toward a section title, while Franklin Regional's goals shifted toward simply getting a playoff berth.

Micayla Livingston again provided the finishing touch for Norwin, as the freshman scored her third overtime game-winner of the season and second against Franklin Regional to give the Knights a 1-0 home win in a key Section 1-AAA contest on Oct. 3.

For the Class AAA No. 4 Knights (12-1-2, 10-1-0), the win kept the team on pace for a rematch to decide the section title with Penn-Trafford that was scheduled for Wednesday, after this edition's deadline.

“We talk about wanting to win our section, and that's our first goal,” Norwin coach Jeff Palm said. “Every game is a tough game, so we have to continue to work hard. Penn-Trafford is a good team; we came into this game tied with them, and we have to continue to win to stay tied with them.”

Franklin Regional (9-6-0, 7-4-0) suffered its third one-goal loss in four section games, but the Panthers rebounded to claim the section's third playoff berth with a 4-0 win over Hempfield last Monday. The team has one remaining section game, at home this Monday against Kiski Area.

“We're not converting on the obvious scoring opportunities we have, and that's a growth thing,” Franklin Regional coach Rich Garland said.

“You've got to give it to Norwin, they're a good team. We're competing with them and the other teams in our section, and if we're fortunate enough to get to the playoffs, we should have an opportunity to make a run at it.”

After a first 80 minutes that saw play largely confied to the midfield, the overtime period began in much the same fashion. But little more than six minutes into the extra period, Livingston created her own chance and finished.

The Knights sent a ball into the penalty area from the right side but the Franklin Regional defense was there to meet it. Livingston pressured quickly and won the ball near the top of the box, at which point she took two touches to her left and fired a shot past FR goalkeeper Kristen Moore and into the left side of the net.

“It's pretty impressive from a freshman,” Palm said. “She has a level head, and she's pretty cool about it. She doesn't get too excited about anything, she just comes off the field asking what she can do to get better.

Norwin's win came in its sixth overtime game of the season. The team is 4-0-2 in those contests, three of which ended with Livingston putting the final touch on the ball.

“Throughout most of this game, I thought we had control of the ball and possession of the ball. We just haven't been able to finish, and that's why we end up in so many of these overtime games,” Palm said. “We kept putting pressure on, trying to get the ball in and trying to create shots.”

Norwin took its share of shots, but the first good scoring chance of the game fell to Franklin Regional on a somewhat questionable play.

Courtney Hanchey chased down a ball that slowly rolled out of play on the left side, but to the surprise of Norwin defender Marissa Antrilli and the nearby Knights' bench, Hanchey continued up the sideline and no whistle came from the referee.

Hanchey sent a cross to the feet of teammate Melanie Renda in the box, as Norwin goalie Cayla Imbarlina charged off her line. By forcing Renda to hesitate, Imbarlina gave defender Jess Boytim time to recover and block Renda's shot from the middle of the box.

Livingston had a chance to score late in the first half when Marlee Bivens put a long pass into her path down the right wing. Livingston cut into the box behind the defense, but Moore was quick off her line to smother the ball and send the freshman attacker tumbling to the ground.

The Panthers should have taken an early second-half lead on a long free kick by Cassidy LeDonne, who lifted the ball into the box from near midfield.

The Norwin defense scrambled and only cleared the ball as far as the top of the box, where Renda put a hard shot on the net. Imbarlina wasn't in position to make the save after trying to track down LeDonne's first ball, but Antrilli covered her goal line and headed the shot over the bar for a corner kick.

Norwin's best second-half chance came with four minutes to play, when Sierra Vecchio rose to head a Kara Batey corner kick barely over the bar. Set pieces and crosses from the wing were when the Knights were at their most dangerous, but the Panthers mostly did a good job eliminating play across the middle in their half of the field.

“We adjusted defensively to try and make them play vertically,” Garland said. “When they were switching that ball in the attacking third, it created some problems. The girls adjusted well and made it so when they switched, they switched in the back and it wasn't hurting us.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or mgrubba@tribweb.com.

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