Familiar face to lead Norwin boys soccer team this season
It has been more than 10 years since Scott Schuchert was an all-WPIAL player for Norwin, but he never distanced himself from the school or its soccer program.
Now he's going to be almost as close to the action as he was in his playing days as he prepares to lead the Knights as the team's new coach, replacing Kevin Chitester who resigned for personal reasons earlier this year. He is also the second Schuchert on the school's coaching directory as his brother Todd is the varsity wrestling coach.
“It was pretty easy because the athletic director (Randy Rovesti) and the other coaches made it real easy to stay organized and accommodate other sports. It made for an easy transition,” Schuchert said. “Plus, I've been involved with the wrestling program, and being affiliated with Norwin for a while I had the wherewithal coming in and I knew what to expect.”
Schuchert takes over one of the most successful programs in Westmoreland County, a perennial Section 1 championship contender and WPIAL Class AAA playoff performer that did well under Chitester's reign. Last season, though, the Knights finished a half-game behind Kiski Area for the section title and lost a disappointing 2-1 decision at Pine-Richland in the opening round of the playoffs.
It was the school's earliest postseason exit since losing in the first round to Baldwin in 2007. It is a loss that rankles the returning Knights and is motivation as they head into their season opener 8 p.m. Friday against Seneca Valley at the Intersection Kickoff Tournament at Chartiers Valley.
It's also a loss they can quickly avenge as the Knights host Pine-Richland in their home opener Sept. 4.
“That was a big game and lot of those guys are my buddies, and I heard it from them all last season,” Norwin senior midfielder Nate Andreyko said. “Me and all my teammates are looking forward to that game, and it's going to be a good game, but we have to keep working hard every practice.”
That kind of impetus will go a long way toward driving Norwin's goal of winning its first outright section title since 2009. So, too, will a solid returning cast, including Andreyko, senior forward Matt Henry and senior defender Jaison Victor.
About the only question mark for Norwin may be in goal. Senior Gene Grzebyk is back with the team, but he's being treated with kid gloves after he suffered a concussion in the postseason loss to Pine-Richland. Grzebyk is working out with the Knights, but there is no timetable for his return, which leaves their defensive posture a bit uncertain.
“It's been a struggle getting him healthy even after a year and an ongoing day-by-day monitoring thing with him,” Schuchert said. “He was supposed to be one of the best goaltenders in the WPIAL, so that is going to be a hurdle.”
Still, even with a new coach, uncertainty in the net and the addition of Franklin Regional to the section after the biennial WPIAL realignment, Norwin retains its typical expectations.
“Obviously, our goal is to win our first game of the season and we'll talk after that,” Schuchert said. “Down the road the goal is to win our section, to dominate our section, and be the top dog of the section. And it starts with that first game.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161 ext. 1977.