Norwin girls soccer rolls Kiski Area in WPIAL quarterfinals

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Thursday, October 26, 2017 | 9:54 PM


Thursday night's WPIAL Class AAAA girls soccer quarterfinal game was moved to Penn-Trafford because of scoreboard problems at Gateway.

Norwin can attest: The scoreboard at Warrior Stadium works just fine. The Knights just needed a 40-minute warm-up and some spacing to light up their side of it.

Lexy Kendro scored two goals, both off fouls — the winner coming in the 55th minute when she redirected an apparent shot from Emily Harrigan — and fourth-seeded Norwin held off No. 12 Kiski Area, 3-1.

The Knights trailed 1-0 at halftime.

Harrigan added an insurance score with 5:35 remaining for the Knights, who held the close-guarding Cavaliers to just three shots.

Two-time defending WPIAL champion Norwin (16-1-1), which had 15 shots, advances to Monday's semifinals to play No. 9 North Allegheny (12-6-1), which upset No. 1 Pine-Richland, 2-0.

The other semifinal has No. 2 Penn-Trafford (15-3-1) facing No. 11 Upper St. Clair (11-5-2), which means rivals Norwin and Penn-Trafford are each a win away from a third clash, which would be the WPIAL title game.

Norwin blanked North Allegheny, 3-0, on the final day of the regular season. Monday will mark Norwin's third straight trip to the district final four.

The Knights handled an early deficit with poise, rather than frustration, with constant contact from the Cavaliers.

“The first half we didn't play bad. We were in their half the whole time,” Kendro said. “We just couldn't connect the final pass. It was physical and pushy. We just had to match that, and we came out fine in the second half. We came out hard and did what we needed to do.”

Kiski Area (11-7), whose first-round playoff win over No. 5 Mt. Lebanon was its first since 2005, played a physical style. That was no surprise to Norwin, which saw some of the same against Canon-McMillan in its opener. Kiski Area lost 4-2 against the Knights in their second section meeting — the most goals Norwin allowed all season.

But the Knights adjusted, seeming to focus more on offensive flow in the final 40 minutes.

“Coming in, we knew 100 percent that Kiski Area was going to be bringing it the whole time,” Norwin coach Lauren Karcher said. “Kiski Area has a great team. They scored on us first, but we were down 2-1 against them before. I think our girls stayed composed and kept playing their game. Halftime was great; we refocused and figured out what we needed to do.”

Kendro said Harrigan headed the ball to a perfect spot, and she headed in the score. It went from a shot to an assist for Harrigan.

“She was trying to head it in,” Kendro said. “I just wanted to make sure it went in.”

Karcher said she has a dynamic duo in Harrigan and Kendro.

“They work so well together,” the coach said. “They know where the other one is going to be. Alyssa Victor was great with her set pieces. The girls were there, and they followed them. We knew we had to capitalize on our opportunities when we had them.”

Kiski Area opened the scoring 15 minutes in when sophomore Sidney Palla took a through-ball past a defender into vacant space — like a tailback who got around a safety — and suddenly was one-on-one with Knights goalie Sam Wexell.

Seemingly surprised and with very little time to react when Palla came charging, Wexell dove but could not stop a sinking shot, and the Cavaliers led 1-0.

“It was a defensive mistake we had there, but we weren't really fazed,” Wexell said. “It wasn't like they controlled us and were getting a bunch of shots. I think we bounced back really well after that.”

Norwin attacked more early in the second half and saw instant results with an equalizer. Kendro followed a wave of teammates down the far side and headed in a shot in the 41st minute to tie it 1-1.

Correction: Kiski Area's goal scorer was misidentified in an earlier version of the story.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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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