North Allegheny stops Norwin, wins first WPIAL girls soccer title

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Thursday, October 31, 2019 | 7:50 PM


With a stiff wind whipping at their backs — the same wind Norwin had in the first half but could not take advantage of — North Allegheny made the conditions work in its favor to win the school’s first WPIAL girls soccer championship.

The Tigers scored twice after halftime and, in the process, took the wind out of Norwin’s sails in a 2-0 victory over the top-seeded Knights in the Class AAAA title game at rain-drenched Highmark Stadium at Station Square.

North Allegheny (17-2-1) won the title in its first championship appearance as Sarah Schupansky and Hannah Kirkpatrick netted goals, both assisted by Emma Bundy, for the Tigers.

Norwin (18-2), which saw an 11-game winning streak stopped, had beaten the Tigers earlier in the season, 3-1. But weather conditions were much different in this meeting and changed the way both teams played.

With the wind ripping across a field with no football lines, Norwin looked quicker in the first 40 minutes. But the Tigers picked up the pace after the break and capitalized to post their eighth shutout, their second clean sheet in the playoffs.

“This wasn’t a pretty game,” North Allegheny coach Chuck Kelley said. “But it’s great for the program. When I first came here, it was a surprise that we hadn’t even been in the WPIAL final. Our goal was to get the program there and do it the right way. All the girls have been working towards this.”

Norwin, which was seeking its fifth WPIAL title and first since 2016, outshot the Tigers, 7-5.

The Knights played without junior Lacey Bernick, a Pitt recruit, who again was wearing a walking boot on her right foot. She also missed the semifinal win against Seneca Valley.

“They came out with a lot of speed in the second half,” Norwin coach Lesley Kaminski said. “That made a big difference in the game. We have some things we need to improve upon. In the WPIAL finals, if you’re off a touch, you’re probably not going to win.”

After a nondescript and scoreless first half, Schupansky, a junior who has committed to Pitt, gave the Tigers the lead on a 3-on-1 attack at 33:26 of the second half.

She took a feed wide from Bundy, a Duquesne commit, and shot right, past keeper Liz Waszkiewicz.

“Having the wind with you is a big factor,” Kelley said. “We were able to play a lot of girls and get fresh legs in there, which was big for us.”

Norwin had trouble getting off clean shots in the second 40 minutes and did its best to keep the Tigers on the defensive. But they eventually found an opening and took a two-goal advantage.

Hannah Kirkpatrick added a second score with 2:30 remaining as she got behind an attacking Norwin backline. Bundy also assisted that score for the Tigers with a nice touch pass.

“It’s such a mental game,” Kaminski said. “We’re OK with being disappointed. We’ll let this sink in for 24 hours and get back to it at practice Saturday.”

North Allegheny also ended Penn-Trafford’s season with a 3-0 win in the quarterfinals. P-T also had beaten the Tigers in the regular season.

Both teams move on to the PIAA playoffs, which begin Tuesday. North Allegheny plays the District 3 runner-up, either Cumberland Valley or Hempfield (Landisville), while Norwin takes on the winner of a sub-regional game between McDowell and Altoona.

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

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