Norwin notebook: Soccer standouts set to begin college careers

Saturday, August 27, 2022 | 11:01 AM

A bout of injuries plagued Norwin at the wrong times last girls soccer season, leaving the team and fans wondering what could have been.

But every senior player, injured or healthy, has gone on to a college career.

All eight of them are set to play at the next level, Division I, II and III.

The girls are: Paloma Swankler (Robert Morris), Emma Rigone (Youngstown State), Jenna McGuinness (Seton Hill), Riley Morningstar (Penn State Behrend), Alyssa Shields (Pitt-Johnstown), Reese Aquilio (Clarion), Natalie Barkley (Penn State Behrend) and Molly Hudson (Saint Vincent).

The group, while close friends, never got to play in a varsity game because of the injury setbacks.

Two other Norwin girls, who did not play for the varsity team, also are set to begin college careers. They are Ashelyn Cornelius (Westminster) and Sydney Gray (Virginia Military Institute).

Bernick, Kaufman change schools

A pair of former Norwin girls soccer standouts transferred to new programs.

Lacey Bernick and Katelyn Kauffman began their college careers together at Pitt, but the sophomore forwards have gone separate ways.

Bernick was looking for a full reset. She made the move to Akron of the Mid-American Conference.

She played a total of 20 minutes across two games last season.

“While my time at Pitt was great and I’m forever grateful for the opportunity, my mental health had declined and I needed a fresh start,” Bernick said. “With Jen Simonetti coming in as the new head coach here at Akron, she’s looking to create a new identity for (the program) and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be a part of something that special.”

Kauffman also played in two games for Pitt, logging 31 minutes with one shot on goal. She transferred to Florida Gulf Coast, which plays in the ASUN Conference.

“I had a great experience at the University of Pittsburgh but wanted to give another school a chance,” Kauffman said. “I wanted to get away from home, the cold Pittsburgh weather, and move to the south; I always dreamed of playing at a school in Florida and was ready for the new opportunity. I wouldn’t take away my time at Pitt for anything. I learned a lot and grew as a person, but it was time for me to make a change and try something new.”

Salopek to start?

Norwin alum Jack Salopek was in the running to start at quarterback for Western Michigan heading into training camp, where he has been taking first-team reps.

The redshirt freshman filled in against Pitt last year — before 40,000 at then-Heinz Field — when starter Kaleb Eleby was ill.

Salopek made a couple of first-down throws to another WPIAL product, Skyy Moore, now a rookie wideout for the Kansas City Chiefs. But then Eleby returned to the game, and the Broncos scored a 44-41 upset over the Kenny Pickett-led Panthers.

With Eleby gone, Salopek could be the man behind center.

“I was just excited getting to play in front of my hometown team,” Salopek told “I had a lot of family and friends there, and luckily, I was able to throw the ball around a little bit and did pretty well, so it was a great day.”

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Salopek had a cool-under-pressure mentality at Norwin, even when the jaws of the defense were closing in around him and he had to take off for yardage.

“I think I learned just to be calm while I’m out there,” he said.

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


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