Early goal carries North Allegheny to 1-0 win over Norwin

Saturday, October 30, 2021 | 7:17 PM

A single goal and sound defense can still carry a tune in the WPIAL soccer playoffs. Always has.

Sixth-seeded North Allegheny proved that Saturday afternoon when the sixth-seeded Tigers jammed up No. 3 Norwin for a 1-0 victory in a WPIAL Class 4A boys quarterfinal game at Norwin Knights Stadium.

“If you defend well for 79 minutes, you’re doing something right,” North Allegheny coach Bobby Vosmaer said. “That was good to see for us.”

An early goal, which seemed to catch both teams off-guard, was all the Tigers (15-5) needed to advance to the semifinals for the first time in four years.

Norwin had a 14-game unbeaten streak halted in its second matchup against North Allegheny in 12 days.

The Knights, who beat North Allegheny, 4-2, on Oct. 19, returned to action after an 11-day break because of a first-round bye. They were looking for their third semifinal appearance since 2018.

“We have come out a little bit slow from game to game,” Norwin coach Scott Schuchert said. “But we finish extremely hard every game. We’re down a goal, we’re going to press on. (North Allegheny), coming off that playoff win, they’re going to have momentum coming in here. They captured that first couple minutes ,and that was big time.”

Just 1 minute, 3 seconds in, all-state senior forward Evan Anderson bumped a shot into the net, finishing a cross from senior Matt Mihm.

“He somehow fumbled it over the line,” Vosmaer said.

Who knew the goal — harmless at the time, precious in the waning minutes — would put the Tigers in the semis against No. 2 Peters Township (15-1-1) on Tuesday?

“We tell our guys, ‘Go wide, cross it in and somebody will finish it off in the middle,’ ” Vosmaer said. “That worked like a charm.

“You know what it’s like. You can draw it up 25,000 times, and it doesn’t go right. Then in the first minute, it’s a goal.”

Back to that defense, the Tigers clamped down on Norwin standout Cale Yuricha, a 28-goal scorer, shadowing his every move and limiting the space in which he had to operate.

“(Yuricha) is a good player. He is an all-state player. We knew what was coming, but it’s still a team sport,” Vosmaer said. “You still have to focus on other players and what they can do.

“Scotty has a good team here, and that’s why we like playing them. You win some, you lose some. Last year they ousted us. Now, we returned the favor. They’re a good side.”

Norwin had a look at an open net in the 33rd minute, but junior Cayden Luther’s putback sailed high.

An indirect free kick from Yuricha also flew the cage early in the second half.

“They were able to sit an extra guy back and play a little more conservative,” Schuchert said. “As the game went on, our chances became minimal. It became more and more difficult to create chances.”

“If we were going to beat North Allegheny today, it was going to be on the wings,” Schuchert added. “We had a couple chances, we just couldn’t break them down to generate that final-third goal. We’re really good in set pieces and today we couldn’t get one.”

North Allegheny, which subbed frequently, received a pair of yellow cards inside the final 10 minutes, which proved meaningless.

Norwin’s last quality chance came on a shot by junior Andrew Wade with 1:45 to go, but sophomore keeper Dante Accamando made the stop.

“I was fortunate that my guys were very disciplined today, and that made the difference,” Vosmaer said. “As time runs by, they become more desperate and you have some Hail Mary plays. I am happy for our boys.”

Accamando and Norwin senior keeper Andrew Yanez had three saves apiece.

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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