Norwin makes early lead stand up, punches ticket to boys soccer final

Monday, October 29, 2018 | 10:21 PM

For the first time since 1989, the Norwin boys soccer team has earned the right to play for the WPIAL Class AAAA championship after defeating Upper St. Clair, 2-1, in the semifinals Monday.

Behind a pair of first-half goals from Carter Breen and Matthew Federovich, the Knights (17-2-1) held on for the victory despite a pesky comeback attempt by the Panthers (12-4-2). Now, coach Scott Schuchert’s team moves on to the finals, where they will be vying for the first WPIAL title in program history.

“Honestly, every day is a new day, and we take it one day at a time, one game at a time,” Schuchert said. “We look forward to that challenge. From section play to our first playoff match, every game is a new challenge to show everyone how good we are.

“At this point, the next game is the next game. But there’s no doubt that every year our goal is the WPIAL championship. But there are a lot of other goals along the way to that, and we’re hitting every single one that we set for this team.”

Breen hit paydirt first in the fourth minute of the contest. The senior striker had one Panthers defender, Zach Shoemaker, to beat and kept him on his hip for about 20 yards down the field before booting a shot off the right post and past keeper Nate Murphy. Breen then settled the rebound off of his own ricochet shot and chipped it into a wide-open goal to net his 33rd goal of the season, giving his Knights a 1-0 lead.

Norwin doubled its lead to 2-0 in the 34th minute with a highlight-reel goal from Federovich. About 30 yards away from the net, the junior midfielder teed one up from the keeper’s left and blasted a shot that seemingly continued to rise as it sailed over Murphy’s outstretched hand into the far, upper corner of the net.

“All these kids have a different dynamic,” Schuchert said. “Carter has his determination and his speed and his grit. He just won’t be denied and that energy level carries over for the rest of us.

“But it’s funny. For Matt, he worked on that specific shot all week. Everyone’s laughing on the bench because he’s working on a shot from so deep outside, but he came up with it in the big game for us.”

In the second half, Upper St. Clair’s Jack Myers cleaned up a rebound in front of the Norwin net and fought through a scrum of defenders to poke one past Knights keeper Kyle Krotec for his team’s first score. The sophomore’s goal in the 65th minute halved his team’s deficit to 2-1.

From there, the Panthers continued to challenge in a more aggressive manner. Coach Uwe Schnieder’s squad put up eight shots but couldn’t make up for the first-half deficit.

“We just kind of weren’t ready in those first 10 minutes of the game. We talked about (Breen), but we didn’t do enough to stop him on that run. The second goal was a great shot. There’s not much you can do about that,” Schnieder said.

“In the second half, we turned it on. But by then, it was a little late. Overall, Norwin deserved to win it, but I’m happy with how we responded in the second half.”

Norwin advances to the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game at Highmark Stadium against Seneca Valley at a time and date that is yet to be determined.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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