No. 1 Norwin remains undefeated with 3-1 win over rival Penn-Trafford

Thursday, September 19, 2019 | 10:14 PM

Top-ranked Norwin built a two-goal cushion by halftime Thursday night but knew the last thing it could do was get comfortable.

This was more like a two-goal pin cushion.

This was, after all, rival Penn-Trafford visting Knights Stadium and anything is possible when these teams tangle.

But faith in what has become their calling card — sound, on-the-spot defense — allowed the Knights to win a hard-fought Section 3-AAAA boys soccer game, 3-1, and stay unbeaten.

“Our team all season, when the time comes, our defense has really been stingy,” Norwin coach Scott Schuchert said. “And that leads to the good results we’ve been having.”

Norwin (9-0-1, 6-0-1) has outscored its opponents, 32-5,and is 2-0 since moving to the top of the Tribune-Review rankings.

Matt Federovich, Adam Ornowski and Brendan Ash all scored for the Knights, who saw the Warriors slice their lead in half with just more than 24 minutes to play.

Penn-Trafford (3-6, 3-4) had won two games in a row but had to work to produce shots. Warriors coach Rick Nese, though, was thrilled with his team’s effort.

“We played our best game of the year,” Nese said. “Hopefully, we bring that kind of effort the rest of the season. We played with them for a good 72 minutes.”

There was no reason to believe the teamns would deviate from a tradition of playing one another close. Neither has earned a sweep since the Warriors did so in 2015. They have tied once in each of the last two years.

Federovich gave the Knights early control with the game’s first score in the 21st minute. He worked his way behind the Warriors’ defense, took a nice touch pass near the visitors’ 15-yard line and softly nudged the ball into the net past drawn-out keeper Isaiah Juarez.

Federovich felt relief when the ball went in.

“I have been super-hard on myself lately because I have been missing breakways after breakaways after breakaways,” Federovich said. “I kept my goal and poked it by him, thankfully.”

It was 2-0 Knights after Adam Ornowski’s goal at the 8:14 mark. Riley Zimmerman delivered a corner kick and just when it looked like Penn-Trafford might clear, Norwin’s Ethan Snyder retained possession and passed to Ornowski in front for the score.

Norwin’s alertness around the net allowed the Knights to build an early lead before they relied on their defense to do the rest. It was not easy, though.

“The first time we play Penn-Trafford every year, it’s a battle for 80 minutes,” Schuchert said. “They bring their best stuff every time. Even when we scored our second goal, it seemed like they weren’t done. It was a good challenge.”

Penn-Trafford had very few chances against the Knights’ defensive back line, but the Warriors did cash in on a set piece. With 24:52 to go in the second half, Nathan Schlessinger lasered a shot past keeper Andy Yanez on a free kick to make it 2-1.

“I think we both were absolutely amped up because this is P-T vs. Norwin, one of the biggest section games we have,” Federovich said. “Towards the end of the first half, we started to pick it up again. We had a little fall-off after we got our two-goal cushion. When they scored, that’s what picked us up again.”

As the Knights maintained control, they finally got another good look in close with 4:03 to play. Brendan Ash displayed nifty footwork to connect from short range and give Norwin a 3-1 lead.

“We talked about getting up on them early,” Federovich said. “I’m glad we did. We had a little foul and it was a great free kick by the other team. Stuff like that happens in the game, but we tried our best to recover, hang on and thankfully, put another one away.”

Yanez made a terrific, diving save to deny the Warriors just inside the final minute.

“The game kind of slowed down a little bit,” Schuchert said. “I think that’s one thing we’re trying to work on is how we can keep the pace up and keep generating chances.”

Norwin played its second straight game without starter Ian Brown, who has been out with an illness.

The teams wore yellow #KickForACure T-shirts during warmups.

Proceeds from a T-shirt fundraiser and several raffles went to a good cause: Andrew’s Avengers, Reflections of Grace and Rocco’s Warriors.

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

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