Norwin boys soccer swarms opponents with depth, versatility

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 | 7:57 PM

Spoiled with depth.

That was a description of his team that Norwin boys soccer coach Scott Schuchert appreciated.

“That’s a very good way to put it,” Schuchert said after his team defeated rival Penn-Trafford last week, 3-1. “That’s kind of what we are.”

Norwin, the No. 1-ranked team in WPIAL Class 4A before Tuesday night’s 4-2 setback against No. 5 Plum, has given its coach plenty to think about as the season bends into its halfway point like a corner cross.

The Knights are 10-1-1 and are second in Section 3 with a 7-1-1 record. They are 0-1-1 against Plum this season.

Norwin is young, but it has scoring prowess, five shutouts and all the frills of a talented team. But Schuchert would like to think the Knights come in first in pure soccer IQ.

“It’s high-capacity soccer intelligence that we have with these kids,” Schuchert said. “We’ve been able to flourish because we are so multi-dimensional. We haven’t had the same starting lineup all season.”

And the players the Knights do roll out each game aren’t always locked into the same positions. It’s not uncommon for Schuchert to switch up players on the fly to better attack an opponent or fit a situation.

“We have options upon options,” senior forward Matt Federovich said. “We’re very skilled and we have a lot of chemistry.”

Take sophomore Riley Zimmerman. Schuchert said his versatility has led to him playing “every position every game.”

“And look at a player like (junior) Brendan Ash,” Schuchert said. “He can be making an impact in the midfield but we can move him up (to forward) and he blends in. For us, we can put our skilled players in the back, which is huge.”

Junior Ian Brown is another movable piece on offense. Defensively, the Knights rely on two back defenders in junior Nate Bown and sophomore Caleb Yuricha.

“We’re very organized in the way we play.” Schuchert said. “That has been a big reason why we’re playing well. And our defense has really played well.”

Seniors Federovich and Micah Yuricha, and Zimmerman can “go anywhere,” as their coach said.

“They are just technically sound and fast,” Penn-Trafford coach Rick Nese said. “They have skill all over the field and you don’t see any glaring weaknesses. They are just really good on the ball.”

With a number of young talents who are varsity-ready and improving with reps — of the 44 players on the roster, only eight are seniors — Norwin has options.

It’s Schuchert’s job to orchestrate the ensemble.

“We can put strengths where we need them and see them,” Schuchert said. “If the game is going a certain direction and we don’t like it, we can adjust and neutralize that mid-game.”

The coach expects the Knights to be just fine after their first loss.

“This is a resilient group,” he said. “I look for a strong comeback. We are built for a championship run. I’ve got all the puzzle pieces to make it happen, starting with an excellent goalie (Andrew Yanez).”

Federovich said another improvement he has noticed this season is the Knights now have a voice that can be heard from net to net. 

“Our communication has improved a lot and that has made a big difference,” Federovich said. “We talk now as a team.”

And their balance and deep bench — who knows? — could end up being the talk of the WPIAL come playoff time.

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


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