Central Bucks South ends improbably playoff run for Norwin boys soccer team

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Tuesday, November 14, 2023 | 9:48 PM


CHAMBERSBURG — Both soccer teams brought their white uniforms Tuesday night, so Central Bucks South wore fluorescent green mesh pinnies over their jerseys.

Norwin coach Scott Schuchert would have given his team the shirt off his back if it meant moving on to the state finals.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

Norwin’s astonishing postseason run finally came to an end with a 1-0 loss to Central Bucks South in the PIAA Class 4A semifinals at Chambersburg’s Trojan Stadium.

Schuchert said Central Bucks South was supposed to wear blue uniforms. When the teams arrived after a three-hour bus ride, there wasn’t much the officials could do.

While the uniform snafu troubled him, Schuchert acknowledged his team was unable to get the equalizer.

The Knights had not been shut out since Oct. 3 against Peters Township (2-0).

All six of their playoff games were tight: two one-goal wins, a one-goal loss, and three shootout finishes.

“It was frustrating because we were disrupted from the beginning, and our guys are looking at white socks all night,” Schuchert said. “It made it tough. It was just a fluky night.

“As much as I want to point fingers, we needed a goal, and we didn’t get one.”

In a matchup of district underdogs, only one earned the chance to be the top dog.

Central Bucks South (19-5-2) was seeded No. 14 in the District 1 playoffs and placed sixth to qualify the state tournament.

Norwin (17-6-1) won its first WPIAL championship as a No. 8 seed.

The Titans advance to the final for the first time to play Council Rock North (19-3-1) or Conestoga (22-0-1) in the championship 7 p.m. Friday at Eagle View Middle School in Mechanicsburg.

Central Bucks South has never won a state title.

“This is new heights for us,” said Titans coach Kyle Pettican, a Conestoga graduate. “Our defensive unit, our defense as a team, they defended front and backwards. Norwin is a good team. We watched them play against North Allegheny in the WPIAL final, and then we played NA (in the PIAA quarterfinals). That helped us a lot. Their goalie was very good.”

The uniform change didn’t bother the Titans, who play a narrow, aggressive style of possession soccer that limits what teams can do on the perimeter.

They also keep the ball in the air for long stretches.

First-time state semifinalist Norwin did not connect on passes like it had in previous games.

“They were playing more and more direct,” Schuchert said of the Titans.

Norwin had won three of five playoff games via penalty kicks, but this game never even got to overtime.

“I thought we had a great start, and we had chances,” Schuchert said. “We just couldn’t get that goal. We’ve been down a goal every game (in the playoffs). We couldn’t pull another miracle win tonight.”

Central Bucks South scored in the 15th minute in an erratic scramble in front that saw the ball deflect off a Norwin defender and bounce into the cage.

Nate MacCloud was credited with the score off an assist from Luke Fromal.

“Luke came in from the outside and placed the ball in a dangerous area,” Pettican said. “It was like pinball in there and the ball found its way in.”

The Titans, who last made the state tournament in 2011, held WPIAL runner-up North Allegheny without a shot on goal in the quarterfinals Saturday. They limited Norwin to one corner kick and five shots.

Titans goalkeeper Pat VanLuvanee and Scalise made four saves each.

VanLuvanee is a New York Red Bulls Academy Player.

“I am so proud of my boys,” Schuchert said. “They didn’t quit until the end. There were no yellows or unsportsmanlikes. They kept their cool and kept fighting. Our best scoring chance probably came with 30 seconds left. I give them so much credit.

“These kids won a (WPIAL) championship, and this didn’t do anything to (diminish) that.”

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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