New coach means clean slate for powerful Norwin girls soccer program

By:
Saturday, September 4, 2021 | 11:01 AM


New Norwin girls soccer coach Diane Metzger does not plan to have a starting lineup selected until a few days before the season opener.

And when those starters are selected, their positions won’t be etched in stone.

“No guarantees,” said Metzger, a Norwin grad and former Lady Knights player who won a PIAA title in 2006. “I want to see what we have as we go through our two scrimmages and go from there. It’s like a puzzle.”

A physical education teacher at Yough, Metzger is about holding players accountable and constantly evaluating them.

They will have to check a lot of boxes to stay on the field.

She is out to mold her team and win games but also wants to keep the pedal down when it comes to watchful, one-on-one attention.

Eight seniors, 10 juniors, two sophomores and 15 freshmen will be treated much the same.

“Just because you earn a spot doesn’t mean you’ll get to keep it,” she said. “You might be starting in the beginning of September, but not in late October. I want the girls to compete, and I want to enforce things but not in a threatening way. The best girls will play.”

The process of getting to know her players has been smoothed out somewhat by the addition of former head coach Lauren Karcher and her former assistant, Sam Fairbanks, to the staff. Matt Klingensmith and Taylor Krupie also are assistants.

“They have been able to find a nice mix of their styles,” senior forward Paloma Swankler said. “Coach Metz has really been talking to us about playing as a team more. That has been huge.”

Still, Metzger wants to make a mark on her alma mater and strengthen the pillars of an already winning culture.

“I didn’t really want to know much about last year,” Metzger said. “I watched some game film and things like that. But my concern was more about what are we going to do now.

“The girls have been great coming in during the offseason. We have some girls injured, so I really haven’t seen the team at full strength.”

Swankler, a Robert Morris commit, is one of four college-bound players on this year’s roster. The others are seniors Emma Rigone (Youngstown State), Jenna McGuinness (Seton Hill) and Reese Aquilo (Clarion).

“I want each person to find their role here,” Metzger said. “It’s not all about who scores all the goals or individual attention. And I am not a win-at-all-costs coach. If we win, we’re going to beat you with our skill. If we put the wrong 11 out there and get smacked, we will have to try something else.”

Other key players include senior goalkeeper Riley Morningstar and junior Alyssa Aquilio, while a freshman to watch is Julia Bersick.

While Norwin has had plenty of talented teams that relied on speed and finesse, Metzger would prefer a more disciplined, defensive approach, possibly more possession soccer and protecting leads.

“Our defense has to be strong,” she said. “That has to be the case.”

Metzger knows about Norwin’s winning tradition, its WPIAL and PIAA championship runs and its plethora of college talent that seems to surface every year.

But she is not making it all about wins.

“I want these girls to learn and grow,” she said. “I want the kids to work. The talent comes in waves, so even if we have a (down year), I want the kids to keep working hard. That is so important.”

Schematically, things will be tweaked from past years.

“I want to create a system that plays to the strengths that we have,” she said.

Without giving away trade secrets, Swankler said the differences are beginning to take shape.

“Structurally, it will be different,” Swankler said. “I think everyone is starting to get the hang of things.”New Norwin girls soccer coach Diane Metzger does not plan to have a starting lineup selected until a few days before the season opener.

And when those starters are selected, their positions won’t be etched in stone.

“No guarantees,” said Metzger, a Norwin grad and former Lady Knights player who won a PIAA title in 2006. “I want to see what we have as we go through our two scrimmages and go from there. It’s like a puzzle.”

A physical education teacher at Yough, Metzger is about holding players accountable and constantly evaluating them.

They will have to check a lot of boxes to stay on the field.

She is out to mold her team and win games but also wants to keep the pedal down when it comes to watchful, one-on-one attention.

Eight seniors, 10 juniors, two sophomores and 15 freshmen will be treated much the same.

“Just because you earn a spot doesn’t mean you’ll get to keep it,” she said. “You might be starting in the beginning of September, but not in late October. I want the girls to compete, and I want to enforce things but not in a threatening way. The best girls will play.”

The process of getting to know her players has been smoothed out somewhat by the addition of former head coach Lauren Karcher and her former assistant, Sam Fairbanks, to the staff. Matt Klingensmith and Taylor Krupie also are assistants.

“They have been able to find a nice mix of their styles,” senior forward Paloma Swankler said. “Coach Metz has really been talking to us about playing as a team more. That has been huge.”

Still, Metzger wants to make a mark on her alma mater and strengthen the pillars of an already winning culture.

“I didn’t really want to know much about last year,” Metzger said. “I watched some game film and things like that. But my concern was more about what are we going to do now.

“The girls have been great coming in during the offseason. We have some girls injured, so I really haven’t seen the team at full strength.”

Swankler, a Robert Morris commit, is one of four college-bound players on this year’s roster. The others are seniors Emma Rigone (Youngstown State), Jenna McGuinness (Seton Hill) and Reese Aquilo (Clarion).

“I want each person to find their role here,” Metzger said. “It’s not all about who scores all the goals or individual attention. And I am not a win-at-all-costs coach. If we win, we’re going to beat you with our skill. If we put the wrong 11 out there and get smacked, we will have to try something else.”

Other key players include senior goalkeeper Riley Morningstar and junior Alyssa Aquilio, while a freshman to watch is Julie Bersick.

While Norwin has had plenty of talented teams that relied on speed and finesse, Metzger would prefer a more disciplined, defensive approach, possibly more possession soccer and protecting leads.

“Our defense has to be strong,” she said. “That has to be the case.”

Metzger knows about Norwin’s winning tradition, its WPIAL and PIAA championship runs and its plethora of college talent that seems to surface every year.

But she is not making it all about wins.

“I want these girls to learn and grow,” she said. “I want the kids to work. The talent comes in waves, so even if we have a (down year), I want the kids to keep working hard. That is so important.”

Schematically, things will be tweaked from past years.

“I want to create a system that plays to the strengths that we have,” she said.

Without giving away trade secrets, Swankler said the differences are beginning to take shape.

“Structurally, it will be different,” Swankler said. “I think everyone is starting to get the hang of things.”

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

Tags:

More High School Soccer Girls

Yough girls soccer coach steps down after outstanding 10-year run
Franklin Regional’s Anthony DiFalco earns 3rd All-America honor; 10 from WPIAL make all-region
A-K Valley senior spotlight: Kiski Area’s Emerson Johngarlo
25 WPIAL soccer players make all-state teams
Westmoreland County high school notebook: Big-school soccer standouts honored

click me