Norwin, Penn-Trafford boys tied for second in section after Knights beat Warriors
The Norwin and Penn-Trafford boys soccer teams entered Saturday's meeting at Warrior Stadium with similar goals in mind.
Norwin was hoping to climb back into the Section 1-AAA race after an uncharacteristically slow start, and Penn-Trafford was looking to keep momentum going after its strong beginning to the season.
The Knights and Warriors ended the night in the same spot — second place in the section.
Yianni Leventopoulos and Bobby Svec each scored goals, and Norwin (4-5-1, 4-2) controlled play throughout in a 2-0 victory over Penn-Trafford.
“Last year, this (was) our turning point,” Norwin coach Scott Schuchert said. “Finishing off the first half of the season on this note is all I can ask for as a coach, especially with the way things have been going. I'm just extremely happy with the way we finished.
“Confidence plays a big part in sports, so hopefully we can feed off of this.”
While Schuchert and the Knights were more than happy with their performance, Penn-Trafford (5-2-1, 4-2) left disappointed.
“We definitely need to be better,” Penn-Trafford coach Jeff Nese said. “They were the better team. They were able to win the majority of 50-50 balls. We just weren't very smooth in transition. It was just one of those off nights, and it was just unfortunate that it was against a section opponent like Norwin. But we'll regroup.”
From the opening whistle, Norwin controlled play by keeping the ball in the Penn-Trafford defensive zone.
Leventopoulos made the Knights' pressure pay off in the 10th minute when he secured a rebound of a Tyler Livingston shot and put it into the net to give Norwin the lead.
“The first goal is always so, so important in any sport, but our boys really feed off of that, and that showed,” Schuchert said. “I think after the first goal, we were able to relax ... and play our brand of soccer. I think when we play our brand of soccer, we can beat anyone.”
Norwin kept the pressure on throughout the rest of the first half, but Penn-Trafford goalkeeper Austin Iddon — starting in place of the injured Bryce Tramuta — kept the Knights from doing any further damage.
“He played very solid,” Nese said of Iddon. “We have three good goalies. We were confident with Austin going in. We lose a lot of leadership (that we have) with Bryce back there. I don't know if it would have been a different result, but you certainly couldn't tell too much (difference).”
The Knights continued their pressure in the second half, thwarting Penn-Trafford's offense by keeping the ball in the Warriors' zone for most of the half.
“When we play on offense, the one thing we need to do is just keep tons of pressure,” Livingston said. “If we keep pressure, then they can't rebound and get rebound goals. If we keep up pressure, that's the best defense.”
Penn-Trafford eventually went to a more aggressive attacking formation, but that helped lead to Svec's goal with 1:24 left, which effectively put the game away.
Norwin's victory capped off a week that included victories over Connellsville (2-1) and Latrobe (3-1). The Knights started the season 1-5-1 overall and 1-2 in section play, but their three-game winning streak put them in a tie for second place in the section.
“All year, we were taking two steps forward, one back,” Schuchert said. “We knew those (first) two games didn't mean anything unless we won three in a row. We needed to string a couple wins together to try and separate ourselves or to get us to the head of the pack in some sort.”
Penn-Trafford, meanwhile, dropped to a tie for second place with Norwin after the loss. Despite the defeat, Nese said he was more than happy with the Warriors' overall play during the first half of the season. The Warriors already have matched their win total from a season ago.
“(I'm) very satisfied,” Nese said. “The section's pretty good. You have five teams that are very competitive with one another. When we can go 4-2 out of that, it's a good thing.”
Both teams continued play earlier this week, with Norwin traveling to Fox Chapel for a nonsection game Wednesday before a road game against section leader Kiski on Thursday. Penn-Trafford hosted Kiski on Tuesday and will head to Hempfield on Thursday.