Norwin girls soccer eager for rematch with Seneca Valley

Sunday, October 27, 2019 | 9:09 PM

The Norwin girls soccer team has been thinking about a possible rematch with Seneca Valley.

After all, the Knights’ 4-3 loss to the Raiders on Sept. 19 is the only blemish on the top-seeded team’s 17-1 record.

Norwin gets its wish at 8 p.m. on Monday at North Allegheny. This meeting has bigger stakes as the winner goes to the WPIAL Class AAAA championship match at Highmark Stadium.

Seneca Valley (13-3-2) is the defending champ.

“They are a great team, and it’ll be a good game all around. It’s nice to have a chance to get revenge for our loss earlier in the season,” Norwin junior midfielder Lacey Bernick said. “We fell short (in the semifinals) last year. It’s good to have another chance to get back to where we want to be, which is the WPIAL finals.”

This marks Norwin’s fifth straight appearance in the WPIAL semifinals, though the Knights have not won the WPIAL since 2016. In 2017, Norwin rebounded to claim the state title. Last season, Peters Township beat Norwin in the semifinals.

“Just to play Seneca again is great. We know it’ll be a difficult game,” Norwin junior Katelyn Kauffman said. “We were up, 2-0, in the first half against them and then fell short in the second half. We know how they play, and we know what we have to work on. We have a lot of motivation to beat them.”

Norwin almost missed out on the opportunity. In Thursday’s quarterfinal, the Knights rallied to tie Fox Chapel, 3-3, late in regulation and pulled out the win on Eva Frankovic’s overtime goal.

“As the top seed, everyone is out to get us now, so we were expecting a hard game, and we didn’t expect an easy win,” Kauffman said. “We just fought and fought until we eventually won in overtime.”

Fox Chapel’s Kaylee Uribe gave her squad a 3-2 lead with 9 minutes, 9 seconds to play in regulation. The Foxes couldn’t complete the upset, though, as Abby Bartos responded with a goal 50 seconds later.

“Once they scored (to go up 3-2), everyone knew that was not going to be it for us. It just pushed us even harder,” Bernick said. “To tie it up and win it was amazing. It was a great way to gain momentum. It was a great way to prove we belong here.”

Frankovic’s winner came off a rebound from Megan Dietz’s corner kick. She was one of four Knights to score, along with Kennedy Soliday, Paloma Swankler and Bartos.

“That was a huge win, and I think that momentum will carry into the next few games,” Kauffman said. “It shows we’ll always have that fight in us. If we’re down a goal, we know we can come back and anyone on the field can score. It’s nice having so many people who can score goals.”

As the top seed, Norwin came into the game against Fox Chapel off a first-round bye.

“In a way, it did affect us. We didn’t play for about a week and a half,” Kauffman said. “It was a nice break. We tried to get a scrimmage in during that time and it just never happened. It was super nice get a win; it’s a relief. A win is a win, in the end. We were all a little nervous going into it. Once the first whistle blew, we knew what we had to do to get a win.”

With the first playoff win out of the way, the Knights hope their experience pays off in the semifinals.

“We’ve been there before and we have a lot of depth. Everyone knows how important this is and the things we have to do to succeed,” Bernick said. “It’s always going to be a good game when we play Seneca Valley. It’ll be a tough one to win, but I think we can pull through.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.


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