Norwin beats rival Penn-Trafford, clinches girls soccer section title with second-half surge

Monday, October 14, 2019 | 10:56 PM

A slow start gave way to a fast finish as the Norwin girls soccer team amped up its play, looking more like a potential WPIAL title contender in the second 40 minutes, and captured its second consecutive Section 3-AAAA championship.

Senior defender Eva Frankovic scored her first two goals of the season and fellow Pitt commits and junior midfielders Lacey Bernick and Katelynn Kauffman also found the net — all in the second half — as the Knights turned back Penn-Trafford, 4-1, on a chilly Monday night in Harrison City.

No. 3-ranked Norwin (16-1, 12-0) swept the season series for the fourth time since 2015 and clinched back-to-back undefeated section seasons.

The Knights have not lost in 29 straight section games. Their last loss in section was 1-0 against Penn-Trafford in 2017. The teams also tied that year.

Penn-Trafford (12-5, 10-2) took a 1-0 lead but had no answer for Norwin’s fast-paced attack after halftime.

The unrelenting Knights outshot the Warriors, 17-4.

“We had a good talk at halftime about what we’re good at and what we needed to do better,” Norwin coach Leslie Kaminski said. “You could see the heart in their eyes.”

Norwin has won nine straight games and four in a row in the series.

“We had to bring more energy and turn it up,” Frankovic said. “That first half wasn’t us. That first goal from them was unexpected. … We needed to realize what was important and play our game.”

Penn-Trafford got the upper hand very early — scoring first in this rivalry has proven critical — and carried a 1-0 edge into the half.

Sophomore Malia Kearns took advantage of a miscue to get a shot past junior keeper Liz Waszkiewicz for a score in the fifth minute.

Norwin’s Morgan Sigut tried to clear the ball, but Kearns stepped in front to block the attempt and found a wide-open net with Waszkiewicz way out of position.

“It was a fluke goal and we really weren’t ourselves in the first half,” said Kauffman, who has 19 goals to lead the Knights. “We had to stay composed and get it together.”

Norwin did that and more.

The Knights, which again piled up the shots like they did in a 2-1 win over Penn-Trafford earlier in the season — Bernick and Kauffman each scored that night, too — delivered the equalizer at 31:52 of the second half.

Bernick took the ball wide and took on a defender one-on-one and fired high. Her shot carried over Warriors’ senior goalkeeper Megan Giesey to make it 1-1.

Giesey, who has been hard to beat, faced shots from all angles and finished with nine tough saves.

“It’s a law of averages,” Kaminski said. “We kept shooting on her, eventually you’re going to get one in.”

Or, four.

Kauffman converted a penalty kick with 25:50 to play to make it 2-1 before Frankovic followed less than five minutes later as she put back a deflection for a 3-1 advantage.

Giesey jumped and tipped a cross by Megan Dietz, but Frankovic, alertly on the spot, redirected the second chance.

“That second half wasn’t our best,” Penn-Trafford coach Jackie Bartko said. “When we came out (after the game), I told them I was not going to say much. I knew they were hurting. But we’ll move past it.”

The fourth goal came at the 14:26 mark as Dietz’s corner kick found its way to Frankovic, who delivered a header to make it 4-1.

“Norwin is very talented and they have so many people who can hurt you,” Bartko said. “It’s tough for us with such a small team this year. They just came out in the second half and played better that we did.”

Senior Akron recruit Sarah Nguyen was held in check for Penn-Trafford. She scored late in the team’s last meeting.

“Our goal was to slow her down,” Frankovic said.

Since 1997, Norwin and Penn-Trafford have 10 section titles apiece.

Norwin is finished with the regular season while Penn-Trafford hopes to use Thursday’s game at Butler as a playoff tuneup. The Warriors lost to Butler, 4-1, in the first round last year.

Norwin is playing without 3 starting defenders with injuries: Emily Shaw, Anna Durmis and Mara Hudson. The trio also missed Norwin’s recent 3-1 victory over No. 1 North Allegheny. The Knights’ depth shown through again.

The rivals have made it about more than a game this season — in girls and boys soccer. Proceeds from a T-shirt fundraiser and several raffles were part of dual fundraiser for 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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