Norwin boys soccer hoping to get off to good start, continue overall success
Norwin boys soccer coach Scott Schuchert isn't thinking about long-term goals at the moment.
His concern lies solely with the Intersection Kickoff Tournament, which begins Friday at Seneca Valley.
“We just want to get off to a good start,” Schuchert said. “Last year, we kind of got off on the wrong foot. We lost a couple of close games early, and it kind of set the tone for our season. We played with our backs against the wall pretty much all season, and then we got some confidence later in the season.
“We want to try and get that confidence from the start. I'm not going to (talk about) down-the-road expectations, but we'd like to win the first tournament. Then we can just build confidence from there.”
After a 2012 season that saw Norwin qualify for the WPIAL playoffs for the 33rd time in the past 34 seasons, the Knights will begin the season with two games at the Intersection Kickoff Tournament. The team will play Chartiers Valley on Friday and either Seneca Valley or Baldwin on Saturday.
Stability alone could allow Norwin to get off to a better start in 2013, Schuchert's second season as coach.
The Norwin graduate didn't take over the job until August last season, shortly before fall practice began. The Knights began the season 5-6 before a four-game winning streak allowed them to keep their postseason run going. The season ended with a 4-0 loss to Pine-Richland in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
This offseason went much differently for the Knights, as the team worked extensively on conditioning before reporting to camp earlier this month.
“We were well-conditioned coming into camp,” Schuchert said. “That way, we could concentrate a little more on the soccer aspect of it instead of wasting a lot of time conditioning and running.”
Schuchert said the extra work paid off — so far, at least.
“The only way to gauge is to play a game, but as of right now, the coaches and I are real excited about where we stand this year,” he said. “ ... Our practices are very competitive.”
As Norwin attempts to continue its success in 2013, Schuchert will look to several experienced players to lead the way.
The team's headliners include senior forward Tyler Livingston and senior midfielder Zac Lakenan.
“They've been up since freshman, and they're really maturing,” Schuchert said. “Now that they're seniors, they're really taking on a leadership role. I think both of them are going to be really potent in our attack.”
At center midfield, Schuchert expects big things from junior Bobby Svec, who played extensively last season.
The back line will be anchored mostly by seniors, Schuchert said, while seniors Will Kerr and Steve Phipps will compete for the starting job in goal.
“They're going to be battling for (the starting job) through the scrimmages,” Schuchert said. “I'd like to say (if) we could use one through the whole season, that'd be great, but it's kind of good to have two seniors that could play pretty much on any other team.”
After this weekend's tournament, Norwin will begin section play Sept. 5 with a home game against 2012 section champion Kiski Area.
With the team anchored by seniors, Schuchert — a former all-WPIAL soccer player at Norwin — believes the team should continue its tradition of success this season.
“It seems like every year, we have great leadership,” he said. “It's neat to see the kids mature and take on that role. There's always kids that never get a chance to shine until they're seniors because they're a year away, or the depth of our team doesn't allow it. But as seniors, then they really take on the leadership role and thrive. Being seniors, I'm hoping that can help us in the season.”