North Allegheny girls soccer looks sharp in shutout win over Norwin

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Thursday, October 29, 2020 | 9:04 PM


Rain can create rust on untreated metal.

Too much down time can have the same effect on soccer teams.

The sharper team after considerable time away from live action was going to win Thursday night when Norwin and North Allegheny met in the WPIAL Class 4A girls quarterfinals.

Fifth-seeded North Allegheny was sharp from the start, scoring twice in the first eight minutes on the way to a one-sided, 3-0 victory over the No. 4 Knights at rain-soaked Norwin Knights Stadium.

Norwin (9-3-1) brought a nine-game unbeaten streak into the game and had posted six straight shutouts. But the Knights had not played since Oct. 20.

They had a first-round bye to start the playoffs that created an eight-day layoff.

The Knights had been to the semifinals five years in a row.

“After the game it’s easy to look back and say maybe a bye wasn’t a good thing for us,” Norwin coach Lauren Karcher said. “You can make excuses left and right. But at the end of the day, North Allegheny played better. They took advantage of our mistakes and made us pay.”

North Allegheny (9-2), meantime, had its last four regular-season games canceled and went 19 days without action due to a covid-19 shutdown, before posting a 3-0 victory over Bethel Park in the first round Monday. Thursday night marked just their fourth game in October.

Now, it has back-to-back shutouts after the long layoff.

“The time off can work different ways for different teams,” Karcher said.

The Tigers advance to play at top-seeded Peters Township (11-1-1) in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

“We have such great leadership on this team,” Tigers coach Chuck Kelley said. “It’s the older girls and the younger girls working together. You have to be prepared when you play Norwin. They thrive in the playoffs.

“We’re grateful to have another game.”

The Tigers took early control of the rematch of last year’s title game that was won by North Allegheny, 2-0, at Highmark Stadium.

It was 2-0 before Norwin could settle in this time. Sarah Schupansky fueled the lightning start for the Tigers, as she sent a corner kick in close and Anna Bundy came up with a loose ball and scored past Knights keeper Liz Waszkiewicz, who appeared to corral the ball but had it slip away.

Goals don’t usually happen that fast, especially in the playoffs. But this one came in the second minute and it stunned Norwin.

The Tigers took the momentum and made it 2-0, again producing on a corner. Schupansky was the last player to touch the ball and while she didn’t attempt a shot, she got credit for an own goal by Norwin.

The ball deflected off a Knights defender in the 6-yard box in the eighth minute.

The Tigers made it 3-0 with 19:52 left in the first half when Schupansky left-footed a shot past Waszkiewicz, who was well out of position. Norwin had a defensive breakdown and the Tigers easily capitalized.

“There is a common belief on this team,” Kelley said. “We play a lot of really good teams to prepare us for this.”

A total of six players committed to Division I programs took the field, including three Pitt recruits in Norwin’s Lacey Bernick and Katelyn Kauffman and Schupansky. But Schupansky got the best of her future teammates.

“Sarah Schupansky is massive,” Kelley said. “To sum up in one game what she has meant to this program doesn’t do her justice. She has raised the standard.”

It was just one of those days for Norwin, which had two legit chances in the second half go awry. Evelyn Moore hit the crossbar on a shot just in front of the cage, and perhaps the moment that encapsulated it all for Norwin was when Kauffman had a penalty kick negated when a Norwin player stepped too early into the box.

“We couldn’t get anything together,” Karcher said. “We had good practices leading up to this game. We didn’t lose because of a lack of effort or desire.

“It’s usually a good game when we play NA. They’re a great team, front to back.”

Norwin and North Allegheny are quite familiar with one another having played at least once a year since 2010. North Allegheny edged the Knights, 2-1, earlier this season.

They have met four times in the postseason since 2017 with Norwin taking three of the matchups.

Overall, Norwin is 11-5 against the Tigers over the past decade.

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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