Landmark season by Norwin boys soccer lays groundwork for future teams
Friday, November 16, 2018 | 9:24 PM
Sometimes a soccer team will need a certain piece of the puzzle to make a big run.
A star forward. A battle-tested goal keeper. A strong midfield presence.
For Norwin coach Scott Schuchert, his team had every piece of that puzzle as the Knights put together one of the best seasons in program history.
“We had a tremendous team,” Schuchert said. “We had a complete team. From the goalie to the center forward. This is the one team that had no holes. We had every position covered.”
Norwin finished the season with a record of 17-4-1. It was the most wins by the Knights since 2007, when they won 16. The Knights’ season end with back-to-back losses, something the team avoided all year. Norwin fell to Seneca Valley, 5-2, in the WPIAL Class AAAA title game — its first final since 1989 — before falling to State College, 2-1, in overtime in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs.
The season was highlighted a 15-game streak from Sept. 1 to Oct. 11 where the team went 14-0-1. The streak powered the Knights to their first section title since 2013.
“That can be a team’s whole season,” Schuchert said. “Because every team has to deal with adversity like injuries and unlucky games. It is amazing that we could get over all those hurdles.”
The Knights scored 99 goals, more than the previous two seasons combined. Norwin scored 41 goals in 2017 and 42 in ’16. Senior Carter Breen was the catalyst, capping his career with a 33-goal season.
“He defines what Norwin is,” Schuchert said. “He has shown what it takes to be a big-time player in his career. Night-in and night-out, he had to play against some of the best defenders marking him and sometimes get two guys on him. He was able to score in every game, just not a goal here or there.”
Senior Zach Ullum also provided an offensive spark with 17 goals.
The defense recorded eight shutouts and gave up only 23 goals. The heart of the defense was a pair of seniors: goalkeeper Kyle Krotec and defender Gabe Tygielski.
“They played with so much determination,” Schuchert said. “Our entire back line played well. They made sure to limit the other team’s opportunities every night.”
The defense is where two of Norwin’s younger starters shined. Junior Adam Ornowski and sophomore Nathan Bown gained praised from Schuchert for their effort.
“Nate played on the freshmen team last season and had no varsity experience,” Schuchert said. “He played outside defender in our three-back set and did well. They both stepped up and played their roles well.”
Several Norwin players received postseason honors. Breen, Ullum and senior Jacob Nebinski received All-WPIAL and all-section honors. Krotec was named to the all-section team.
While it will be hard to replace the contributions of the 13-player senior class, the group helped lay the groundwork for Norwin to take the next step.
“I think you almost need to see it once,” Schuchert said. “This group helped pave the way for the next group. The next time we get there, their eyes will be a little less wide. I think we will be posed and ready next year.”
Nathan Smith is a freelance writer.