Norwin boys soccer team reloading for another run

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Monday, August 26, 2019 | 8:30 PM


Norwin boys soccer coach Scott Schuchert lost 14 seniors from the team that finally broke “the curse.”

Graduation swept away all-time leading goal scorer and Tribune-Review Westmoreland Player of the Year Carter Breen (Duquesne), and a few other standouts.

But as a new season prepares to open its curtains Friday, Schuchert is not moping around practice looking for replacements.

“That was a really special group we had,” he said. “But the important thing (about this year’s team) is that that group took all of our underclassmen along for the ride. Now (the current players) are all saying it’s our turn.”

Norwin finally stomped out a frustrating run of seven consecutive first-round defeats in the WPIAL playoffs — and kept going. The Knights reached the WPIAL title game for the first time since 1989 before falling to Seneca Valley, 5-2, at Highmark Stadium.

The Knights’ run ended with a 2-1 PIAA first-round loss to State College.

With 64 players out for soccer, Norwin’s program is in fine shape. Schuchert expects numbers to grow next year.

The influx of youthful talent should keep Norwin plenty competitive.

“We’re reloading,” Schuchert said. “I know we’ll have some success, but it’s how we handle adversity that matters most.”

Fourth-year starter Matt Federovich returns as a key back, along with senior outside back Adam Ornowski, a three-year starter, and junior Ian Brown.

“Our identity as a team is going to change a lot from last year,” Ornowski said. “We’re transitioning from an attack that was mainly based on individual goal scorers to being an attack built by the whole team. We lost a ton of seniors, and our current senior class is very small … our junior class holds a ton of talent.”

Schuchert said sophomore Andrew Yanez will be his starting goalkeeper.

The Knights also have to replace the 27 assists provided by Jake Nebinski and the 18 goals and 19 assists from Zach Ullum.

Finding a player with the speed of Breen, who had 68 career goals and was the WPIAL 4A Co-Player of the Year, is a tall task, and replacing his offense could be a committee approach.

“The way we coach year-to-year, we try to make roles interchangeable,” Schuchert said. “No matter the situation or personnel, we want our guys to be prepared. We could have widespread scoring.”

Brown has a knack for finding the net. He had 12 goals in the Knights’ first seven games last season before he was moved to outside back.

Junior midfielder Brendan Ash could be one of the open-field distributors, while sophomore Caleb Yuricha and junior Ethan Snyder, who led the junior varsity team in goals last year, and sophomore Riley Zimmerman are up-and-coming players.

Zimmerman said he learned plenty while watching the Knights’ playoff surge.

“It was an amazing feeling to be able to see a team I’m on go that far into the playoffs,” Zimmerman said. “But this year, with the loss of our seniors, we have to change the way we’re going to play on the pitch. If our team can take the confidence and the will to fight for every win like our team did last year, I think it’ll boost our mentality and help us win games.”

Defensively, junior Nate Bown returns as the Knights’ “lockdown” player.

“Every game he shut down the other team’s best player,” Schuchert said.

Another trip to a four-day, three-night team camp at Edinboro is a critical step for team unity, Schuchert said.

“All of the WPIAL (4A) semifinalists were there,” he said. “And we got to play some teams from Ohio. It was good to try some different (lineup) combinations. That camp is where it all starts for us.”

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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