Latrobe girls soccer after sweep of Norwin: ‘We’re the real deal’

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Thursday, September 30, 2021 | 10:39 PM


Regan Reilly funneled the soccer ball to the middle of the attack, but shifted gears and sent a pass wide and through a pack of Norwin defenders closing in around her.

There, waiting out of the corner of her eye, was Ella Bulava. When the ball touched her foot, she reared back and kicked it outside and left past goalkeeper Riley Morningstar and into the far corner of the net.

The 55th-minute goal, piloted by a pair of sophomore midfielders, turned out to be all No. 5 Latrobe needed to continue its march toward a long-awaited section title as the Wildcats posted a 1-0 victory Thursday night at Norwin Knights Stadium.

The defense did most of the heavy lifting for the Wildcats (8-0-1, 5-0-1), who have not won a section since 1972 but are locked on finishing first in Section 3-4A.

“That’s our game,” Latrobe coach Jamie Morrison said of the control of possession and effort to stymie the perennial-contending Knights. “The chemistry between these girls is superb. They are shifting with one another. If there is a misstep or a bobble, the other girl is there for support.”

It is believed to be the first season sweep by Latrobe against Norwin.

If a 2-1 win over the Knights was a statement game early in the year, this one was about affirmation. It was a double-down to let the rest of 4A know it might be Latrobe’s time.

The novelty of being a new contender in 4A is wearing off — fast.

“It’s a defining moment,” Morrison said. “That was no fluke. We’re the real deal, and we’re a team to be reckoned with.”

Norwin (6-2, 4-2) had won five in a row, all via shutout, since the loss to Latrobe. The Knights outscored those five opponents, 19-0, including a 3-0 win over No. 3 Seneca Valley on Tuesday.

“We’re pretty dinged up. It’s been a tough week and this was a tough game,” Norwin coach Diane Metzger said. “That is not an excuse by any means. Latrobe is a good team, and we respect them. We lost because we got beat.”

Norwin has allowed just four goals all season. Three of them have been scored by Latrobe.

The latest one, Reilly to Bulava, was nothing new to Latrobe.

“Ella and Regan are like peas on a pod,” Morrison said.”They know each other’s game really well. Ella knows to run to the gaps and that is what she did tonight.”

Bulava, who is easy to spot with her bright-orange headband, said she and Reilly share a bond.

“Some people call us the dynamic duo,” she said. “We have had that chemistry since we were kids. We wanted to get a lead and hold it.”

Bulava, who has six goals this season, said the Wildcats were armed with motivation.

“Some outsiders said when we beat them last time it was a fluke,” she said. “We wanted to show it wasn’t.”

Norwin, which saw junior Halle Holtzman and senior Paloma Swankler leave the game with injuries, pushed into the final third as time ticked away in the second half. The Knights had three straight corner kicks inside the 66th minute, but they were batted away by the Wildcats’ junior Chloe Boyette.

Wildcats junior goalkeeper Sofia DeCerb, who made four saves, scooped up a grounder from junior Reagan Casper, who took a free kick from the 10-yard line.

Swankler, who was relentless in creating scoring chances, did not play in the first meeting with the Wildcats. Neither did junior Alyssa Aquilio.

The second straight 1-0 shutout for Latrobe came two days after the Wildcats blanked Penn-Trafford in overtime.

“Penn-Trafford did a great job against us and defended us really well,” Morrison said. “That was a good game, and it helped prepare us for tonight.”

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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