Norwin notebook: Defender makes all-WPIAL list

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Saturday, November 12, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Girls soccer talent is bubbling over in Westmoreland County, as evidenced by postseason playoff runs, career scoring milestones and Division I commitments.

The proof also lies in the All-WPIAL list, which was released last week.

Norwin senior Reagan Casper was one of 17 defenders to make the list.

Mt. Pleasant, which made the WPIAL 2A championship for the first time, had five selections in sophomore forward Rylin Bugosh, senior midfielder Marissa Garn, freshman forward Morgan Gesinski, junior midfielder Riley Gesinski, and junior defender Maggie Piper.

Latrobe, a WPIAL 3A semifinalist and PIAA qualifier, had four picks: junior midfielder Ella Bulava, senior goalkeeper Sofia DeCerb, junior midfielder Regan Reilly, and sophomore midfielder Robin Reilly.

Also making the list were Greensburg Central Catholic pair Sara Felder (Sr., F) and Riley Kerr (So., F), who guided the Centurions to the WPIAL semis and PIAA tournament in Class A; Aris Lamanna (Jr., GK) and Sierra Todero (Sr., F) of Franklin Regional; McKenzie Pritts (Sr., F) and Kendalyn Umbel (So., MF) of Yough; senior midfielder Kendall Fabery of Southmoreland; Belle Vernon senior forward Farrah Reader, and Burrell senior midfielder Ali Hughes.

Sign of the times

Nov. 9 was National Signing Day for all high school sports except football.

Athletes could begin signing with Division I and II schools from then until Aug. 1. Basketball and football have a slightly different schedule.

Basketball’s early signing period goes from Nov. 9-16, while the regular period if April 12-May 17.

The football early period is Dec. 21-23, and the regular signing window runs from Feb. 1-April 1 (Division I) and Feb. 1-Aug. 1 (Division II).

Smith to Buffalo

Norwin senior Xander Smith accepted a preferred walk-on offer to play football at Buffalo. He will join his special teams partner, senior kicker Joey Castle, at the Division I level.

Castle committed to Akron in October.

Smith brings a unique talent as a long snapper. Kohl’s Kicking Camps rates him as the No. 1 player at the position in Pennsylvania for the Class of 2023.

State run

Norwin freshman Annie Czajkowski finished 57th at the PIAA Class 3A cross country championships in Hershey.

The fifth freshman in the race, she crossed the finish line in 20 minutes, 46 seconds.

Yuricha top rookie

Pitt-Greensburg freshman soccer player Caleb Yuricha, a 2021 Norwin graduate, was named the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Newcomer of the Year.

Yuricha netted 13 goals and added four assists, and led the conference with 30 points.

Zajicek transfers

Former Norwin basketball standout Brianna Zajicek had planned to continue her playing career at Division II Alderson Broaddus in Phillippi, W.Va, but she made a change in plans.

She is now at Illinois-Springfield, another Division II program.

Her reason for switching is simple: Coach Summer Quesenberry, who was leading Alderson Broaddus and recruited Zajicek, is now the coach at Illinois-Springfield.

Zajicek followed the coach whom she believed in from the beginning.

“She was the main reason I committed in the first place,” Zajicek said.

Kauffman all-conference

Katelyn Kauffman, a Norwin soccer alum who left Pitt to play at Florida Gulf Coast, earned All-ASUN Conference Third Team honors.

A sophomore, Kauffman has a goal and three assists in her debut season.

Three-horse race?

It is very early and the season is five months long, but the PIHL Class A Blue Division is shaping up to be a three-team race at the top.

Fox Chapel was 5-1 and leading with 10 points, but Greensburg Salem was 4-0, and Norwin stood at 4-1, with its only loss to Greensburg Salem.

Not surprisingly, Fox Chapel and Norwin are tied for the Class A lead in goals with 37 apiece, while Greensburg Salem is fourth with 33.

A game to watch is tonight at Alpha Ice Complex in Harmar as Greensburg Salem visits Fox Chapel for a 6 p.m. face-off.

Norwin does not play the Foxes, the team they upset in last year’s semifinal to reach the Penguins Cup final, until Dec. 22 at Alpha Ice.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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