Norwin beats Franklin Regional in key section game
Norwin coach Jeff Palm didn't panic when Franklin Regional took a 1-0 lead 18 minutes in to the second half of the Knights' Section 1-AAA match-up Monday night.
“The first half we had a lot of chances. We had a lot of chances, (but) we just couldn't finish,” Palm said. “The second (half) they scored a goal on us. (We) continued to press forward and got some chances and were able to score.”
No. 1 Norwin (4-0-1, 2-0-0) battled back and scored two unanswered goals to capture a 2-1 victory and a share of first-place with Penn-Trafford.
“I wasn't giving up on the girls and neither were (the girls),” Palm said.
Norwin's Jess Boytim scored on a corner kick midway through the first half, but it was called back on an offsides.
Franklin Regional (2-4-1, 1-2-1) knew it was going to be a physical game, and coach Rich Garland feels his squad was up to the task.
“We stayed with them physically, and I think that may have frustrated them,” Garland said. “We came out and controlled it for a bit. We were able to net one.”
Melanie Renda scored the game's first goal after the break to end a scoreless tie, but the Knights responded in the form of a Boytim goal off a corner kick.
“I told them at half, ‘Offensively, we have to be able to finish our chances. We have to be able to convert on those opportunities because we might not get a lot of them later,'” Palm said.
Palm credited the solid play of defenders Boytim, Abby Churchfield, Olivia Ott and Marley Smith in front of goalie Cayla Imbarlina for keeping the game in their favor, especially after Lexie Kolano notched the game-winner with just over 10 minutes left in regulation.
“Our defense held the game pretty tight,” Palm said. “We were able to hold them up from getting many chances.”
The win serves as another step towards Norwin's ultimate goal of a postseason championship run. Palm knows navigating through a solid section slate is the only way to get an opportunity at the playoffs.
“We play in a tough section, and everyone's coming for us,” Palm said. “We have to be able to play against all the teams in our section and come out victorious.”
Garland said he liked what he saw from his Panthers, and he knows it'll be a tougher road to the playoffs.
“It's a tribute to our girls that they can play with the best teams in the WPIAL,” Garland said. “If you put yourself in a situation to win you never know what can happen at the end of the game.”
Both teams returned to action Wednesday. Norwin traveled to Latrobe for a 4 p.m. start, while Franklin Regional hosted Kiski Area for a 7:30 p.m. game.
Justin Criado is a freelance writer.