Canon-McMillan boys soccer scores upset of No. 3 Norwin

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Thursday, September 28, 2023 | 10:53 PM


Both boys soccer teams had given up 10 goals coming into their latest Section 2-4A matchup.

But only one of them kept that total intact.

Canon-McMillan, led by its coach with Westmoreland County ties, notched a goal in each half and locked down on defense throughout in a 2-0 upset of No. 3 Norwin on Thursday night in North Huntingdon.

The Big Macs (6-5-1, 6-3-1) have won five of their last six games. This victory, though, which came in a drenching rain at Norwin Knights Stadium, had a signature type of feel to it.

“To beat a top team in the section like Norwin gives us confidence and tells us we can play with those kind of teams,” said Big Macs second-year coach Tom Sochacki, a New Stanton native who was a standout player at Shady Side Academy in the early 2000s. “We’re a young team with six sophomore starters. We’re looking for that star goal scorer, but we can really defend.

“Our trajectory has been ups and downs, but with the second half (of section play), we’re getting back in the mix. We have a lot of confidence.”

Norwin (9-3, 8-2), which had won eight of nine, defeated Canon-McMillan earlier in the season 1-0.

Coach Scott Schuchert knew the Big Macs would present a challenge.

“They are very physical and resilient bunch,” Schuchert said. “They keep coming at you on defense.”

Sochacki, who played at Duquesne, used to be the coach at Hempfield and Greensburg Central Catholic.

His team has five shutouts in a section that could begin to tighten.

A Norwin miscue led to a 1-on-1 goal for Canon-McMillan in the third minute. The Knights failed to clear the ball on two early possessions, and the Big Macs made them pay on the second.

A pass was played out of the back but into a dangerous spot a few yards ahead of the penalty arc.

Senior midfielder Ryan Galicic intercepted the ball and dribbled at Knights’ senior keeper Anthony Scalise before finishing to the left side.

Norwin had a similar misfire seconds before that resulted in a save by Scalise.

The sluggish play cost the Knights, who were shut out for the second time this season.

“Those were the only miscues like that we’ve had all year,” Schuchert said. “We want to play possession soccer. That is the risk you take. We’ll learn from that.”

Galicic appeared to score again in the 28th minute, but the goal was negated because the Big Macs were offside.

Still, the momentum was with the Big Macs.

“Norwin came at us late in the second half, but I was happy with how we responded,” Sochacki said.

Back-and-forth play ensued through the majority of a more balanced second half, until Canon-McMillan took advantage of a set piece to take a 2-0 lead.

Senior defender Luke Gilvic sent a free kick into the box from 30 yards, and sophomore Elijah Krisher finished with a header in the 67th minute.

“We came out flying in the second half,” Sochacki said. “I think we have scored on maybe four set pieces this year. We get a lot of dirty goals.”

Norwin accelerated offensively down the stretch, finally getting some shots on target against senior goalkeeper Ryan Simonette, but to no avail.

“He stood on his head,” Schuchert said.

Junior Daniel Maddock had two consecutive shots stuffed, one by Simonette, who then denied junior Daniel Moyer with about five minutes to play.

Simonette finished with five saves.

“He has won games for us all year,” Sochacki said. “I am partial, but I think he is the best goalkeeper in the section. He makes big save after big save.”

Norwin had 11 shots to Canon-McMillan’s six.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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