Norwin girls soccer battling injuries, tough section slate

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Saturday, October 9, 2021 | 11:01 AM


With the number of injuries and player rotations Norwin has had this season, you might expect the Knights to be struggling to stay in the playoff race.

But it has been quite the contrary for the girls soccer team, which has navigated the absences and lineup changes with poise.

Injuries have mounted at such a high rate that the team has had trouble keeping track of them.

“With all we have been through, I am so proud of our girls,” said first-year coach Diane Metzger, a Norwin alum whose team won five straight after a rare section-opening loss with all five coming via shutout. “They are learning a new system through all of it, and that is a lot to absorb.”

Norwin moved to 6-2 overall and 4-2 in Section 3-4A after it was swept by upstart Latrobe, 1-0, to close out September.

The home loss was tough to take because it hindered Norwin’s chances at making a run at the section title. Could the Knights have exacted revenge on the Wildcats in their second meeting with a lineup at full strength?

“When you have that many injuries, you’re playing girls in spots they might not otherwise be in,” Metzger said. “We were already thin, then we lost four more girls.”

All told, Norwin had eight regular players out at one time or another in junior Alyssa Aquilio, senior Reese Aquilio, senior Natalie Barkley, junior Ema Kaufman, senior Jenna McGuinness, freshman Mila Ostovich and senior Paloma Swankler.

Swankler, a Robert Morris commit, missed the first Latrobe game with an ankle injury and left the second game against the Wildcats with another lower leg ailment.

Swankler, though, returned to score a goal in a pair of wins, over Plum and Fox Chapel.

“She is a super tough kid,” Metzger said. “She is going to want to come back right away.”

Norwin had to dress its entire junior varsity team for the second Latrobe game.

Metzger was quick to give Latrobe credit and was not blaming injuries for the late loss. That Norwin has not fielded a fully healthy lineup all season is discouraging for the team, but the Knights had managed to allow just four goals in their first eight games — three of them to Latrobe.

The Knights upset No. 3 Seneca Valley, 1-0. They played three games in six days, so recovery time was fleeting.

“From the first day of tryouts we have had injuries,” Metzger said. “It’s been a tough season, and the strength of our schedule is starting to show itself. There are a lot of tough teams in our section. It’s tough when you have a game every other day. And I realize everyone has that, it’s not just Norwin.”

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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