Norwin girls soccer rebounds from WPIAL title game loss to blank State College in first round of states
ALTOONA — After falling short of a third consecutive WPIAL championship with a loss to Penn-Trafford in the finals Saturday, the Norwin girls soccer team waited eagerly to get back on the field.
The loss forced the team to travel to Altoona's Mansion Park, however, for a game in frigid temperatures on a slick, snow-covered surface.
The players couldn't feel their feet, but that didn't stop Knights from prevailing 4-0 over District 6 champ State College in the opening round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
“The girls have been ready. We weren't thrilled with the outcome of the WPIAL final,” Norwin coach Lauren Karcher said. “We couldn't prepare much for the field conditions. Both teams had to deal with it. It put a slight change on how we wanted to come it in the first half, but the girls kept at it, kept attacking.
“We knew eventually some would go in. We just had to keep our intensity up.”
Norwin possessed the ball throughout most of the first half and put more than a dozen shots on goal but couldn't put one in until late in the half.
Eva Frankovic gave the Knights a 1-0 with 2 minutes, 36 seconds remaining in the half with an 18-yard shot from the top of the goal. Katy Ericson's shot bounded hard off a State College defender to Frankovic for the goal.
Norwin put State College in a three-goal hole with a pair of scores 1:44 part early in the second half.
Lexy Kendro got the first one with a deflection off Alyssa Victor's free kick from 45 yards out at the 30:32 mark.
“Alyssa and I always seem to find a way to make something happen when we have free kicks from out far,” Kendro said. “I usually run across the box and try to get deflection on it. I got my heel on it. It happened so fast. I think it caught the keeper off guard.”
Kendro assisted on the ensuing goal with a pass to a streaking Emily Harrigan on the right wing. Harrigan put a low shot to the far post for the three-goal edge with 28:48 left in the game.
“Mine was the easy part,” Harrigan said. “They the did the tough part. It started from the back to Lexi, and she found me on the through ball. We connect really well. We've been teammates for years now, and know what the other is going to do.”
Lexi Gray sealed the win with a goal that banged off the crossbar and went in with 1:40 to play.
It was more than enough for keeper Sam Wexell, who recorded her 50th career shutout. That ties the school record held by Kori Koper (1999-2002).
“We held off them off as much as we could early,” State College coach Doug Bates said. “We got some lucky bounces. We had some great goalkeeper work and some great defensive play. We withstood their first half attack pretty well, but in the second half, they certainly got the better of us.
“You're not going to put many goals in on a team like that. The hope is you can get one in early, and we had couple opportunities. That was the game plan: get an early goal and buckle down.
Norwin advances to the quarterfinals for a game against North Allegheny, which upset Penn-Trafford on Tuesday.
Jon Fleck is a freelance writer.