Norwin boys soccer secures playoff spot
The boys soccer program at Norwin has been a fixture in the WPIAL playoffs, having missed out just once since 1980.
This year's team left qualifying until late, but the Knights are back again.
Norwin closed out section play with four straight wins to start the month of October, which means the team will join Section 1-AAA champ Kiski Area and runner-up Franklin Regional in the playoffs, which begin this weekend.
The Knights (9-7-0, 8-4-0) started its streak with a 2-0 win over Franklin Regional, which it followed with an 8-1 win at eventual fourth-place team Latrobe, a 4-0 win over Connellsville, and a 5-2 win last Thursday at Penn-Trafford.
“One of the things this team really did well was learn the lessons from our losses,” Norwin coach Scott Schuchert said.
“From the beginning, we've been playing good soccer. It's just a confidence issue. It's a matter of finishing our chances and not giving up easy goals.”
The overall win streak ended Monday with a late loss at playoff-bound North Allegheny, 2-1.
Norwin trailed at half, 1-0, but Zac Lakenan's goal midway through the second half pulled the Knights level. The game appeared to be headed to overtime before North Allegheny's Ben Ziolkowski scored in the 79th minute to give the Tigers (10-3-3) the win.
Norwin played without two of its captains — Jaison Victor and Matt Henry — in the loss, but Schuchert said the game was still an excellent tune-up for the postseason.
“It was a tough loss, and we've dealt with a few of these this year,” Schuchert said. “I strongly believe the first half tonight was a great test to get us ready for playoff soccer. We want to keep our edge going into the playoffs.”
With nonsection games against playoff teams Seneca Valley, North Allegheny and Bethel Park, and another against Baldwin, which missed the playoffs by one win, Norwin's schedule this year was no cakewalk. That, paired with the recent win streak, has the Knights entering the playoffs on a high.
“Our schedule's been pretty solid. The teams we've played have us geared up for the playoffs,” Schuchert said. “Right now, this is a really confident group. There's no team we're not confident playing against in the playoffs.”
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.