Group effort leads Norwin girls into WPIAL title game vs. North Allegheny

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 | 8:29 PM

The Norwin girls soccer team returned to the WPIAL championship for the fourth time in five years and will go for its fifth district title Thursday night when it faces North Allegheny in the Class AAAA final at Highmark Stadium.

But the top-seeded Knights (18-1) have made their latest playoff run with an unorthodox coaching setup.

Coach Lauren Karcher has been out all season on maternity leave and, while she unofficially has returned to support the Knights, several assistants have combined to give the team a coach-by-committee approach.

Sam Fairbanks and Lesley Kaminski — co-head coaches in principle — have guided Norwin back to the finals. Karcher won’t return to teaching until December.

Marisa Hirch, Karcher’s sister, also has helped the staff.

“Sam and Lesley have been with me since the beginning,” Karcher said.

“We are all so close,” Kaminski said. “We were all in each other’s weddings, and we hang out and do things together. We’re like sisters.”

Karcher has confidence in her assistants and expected them to keep a talented team moving forward.

“We didn’t know what to expect when this season started,” Karcher said. “It’s been nice to see things continue so well.”

Norwin blanked Seneca Valley, 1-0, in the semifinals, to avenge its only loss this season.

The Knights beat North Allegheny (16-2-1), 3-1, on Oct. 10, part of their 11-game winning streak. Norwin also edged the Tigers in the quarterfinals last year, 2-1.

North Allegheny slipped past No. 2 seed Peters Township in the semifinals on penalty kicks.

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

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