Controversial OT goal gives Norwin boys soccer win over rival Penn-Trafford

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021 | 11:47 PM


You couldn’t tell who was more stunned at first, Norwin or Penn-Trafford.

But you could tell who was more upset.

Senior Caleb Yuricha scored a controversial goal with 36 seconds left in the first overtime to lift No. 3 Norwin to a sudden 1-0 win over rival Penn-Trafford on Wednesday night in a Section 3-4A boys soccer game at Warrior Stadium.

Just like that, after nearly 90 minutes of nip-and-tuck, all-out soccer between two playoff teams, it was over in a contentious flash.

Both coaches thought a foul should have been called on the deciding play. Someone called the goal “cheap.” Another referred to it as “dirty.”

The golden goal went something like this:

Yuricha ran wide, got around a snug-fitting defender and pushed the ball toward the net. Warriors’ senior keeper AJ Visco got his hands on the ball and appeared to make the save, but Yuricha inadvertently slid into him, and the ball got behind Visco and just trickled across the line.

Referees conferred, leading a torn crowd to believe the goal might get waved off.

But instead they made it official, leaving fourth-place Penn-Trafford (7-7, 6-6) beside itself and section-champion Norwin (13-1-1, 12-0) awkwardly proud to push its unbeaten streak to 13.

“It was a great war,” Penn-Trafford coach Sotiri Tsourekis said. “It’s a shame the kids didn’t decide the outcome.

“They blew the call. He was offside for one, and he cut under our goalkeeper. That is a clear foul and it wasn’t called.”

It was clear that Yuricha’s 26th goal of the season did not altogether sit well with him, but he isn’t about to give it back. He earned the chance with his late sprint but would have preferred a less tainted strike to win it.

“Yeah, it was a dirty goal,” Yuricha said. “The ball ricocheted and I fell into him and then it rolled in. That is not how we expected it to end. Both teams played great. Their keeper was exceptional.”

Penn-Trafford, which hasn’t beaten Norwin since 2016, wanted an obstruction call on Yuricha, while Norwin thought Yuricha was grabbed on his final pass to the goal.

Visco and Norwin keeper Andy Yanez stopped the handful of quality shots on frame. Visco made eight saves and Yanez stopped six.

“Caleb had the angle. … He was actually held back,” Norwin coach Scott Schuchert said. “He made a run, and the ball went in. It was like a playoff game, and we got a desperation winner. I felt like the later it went, the better off we were.”

Visco said he got both hands on the ball, but Yuricha slid into him, forcing him backwards, and the momentum carried both him and the ball into the cage.

“Either way, the call should have been a foul for prohibiting me from getting the ball or hitting me when I had possession of the ball,” Visco said. “Obviously, you can’t blame the refs for the whole game, but I’m not sure how that goal stands.”

Visco said officials said he did not have possession of the ball when the contact occurred, which is why the goal stood.

“But I’m not sure how me having possession of the ball matters when he slid into me and did not even make an attempt to win the ball,” Visco said. “If we get that call, we most likely force it into the second OT.”

The win also marked the Knights’ ninth shutout of the season. They had already clinched the section title.

“You want to win every game 10-0,” Schuchert said. “But you have to be able to win close games in the playoffs. It was good to get this win in this type of environment.”

Said Yuricha: “It’s always tough to come to P-T. It’s loud and obnoxious. It was our longest game of the season. We’re glad to get a win.”

Both teams had a chance in the fading seconds of regulation. Visco stymied Owen Christopher on a rifle shot from inside the 20, and Yuricha nearly connected on the rebound.

Then, a long free kick was saved by Yanez.

In overtime, Riley Zimmerman was denied by Visco after a defender fell down. With 2:07 left in the extra frame, Zimmerman appeared to be fouled in the box, but the call instead went against Norwin.

Tsourekis said officiating needs to improve, especially with the playoffs coming up.

“It’s a 0-0 game in a rivalry,” Tsourekis said. “I know they’re shorthanded. But the black and white have to be better than that.”

Norwin played without two injured starters: sophomore Alex Brown (foot) and senior Tyler Chermisky (knee).

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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