Norwin notebook: Tiebreakers keep Knights out of football playoffs despite big win

Saturday, October 30, 2021 | 11:01 AM

WPIAL mathematics when it comes to tiebreakers can make your head spin and your blood pressure rise, especially if you’re a team trying to get into the football playoffs.

Take Norwin.

The Knights (3-6, 1-5) put together one of their best games of the season, toppling No. 5-ranked Canon-McMillan, 16-7, for their first win in the Class 6A conference.

The Week 8 win broke a five-game losing streak. The Knights heard they were still alive in the playoff chase.

But then the news came in that Norwin, no matter what it did against Hempfield in the regular-season finale, could not make the playoffs.

“It was heartbreaking, really, because we played an excellent game and never quit,” Norwin senior running back Dom Barca said. “As far as going into this last game, there is nothing different. It is another opportunity to perform and have some fun against our rival.”

Even if the Knights finished tied with Canon-McMillan and Baldwin, they could not have overtaken them in tiebreaker points. With minus-41, Norwin had no chance of catching either team to get fifth place in the eight-team conference.

Volleyball playoffs

Norwin was given the No. 12 seed in the WPIAL Class 4A girls volleyball playoffs and fell to No. 5 Pine-Richland in three sets in the first round Oct. 26.

Knights win opener

Norwin has overcome a number of injuries throughout the season to stay in the thick of the Class 4A girls soccer title chase. The Lady Knights advanced to the quarterfinals with a 5-0 victory over No. 12 seed North Hills as junior Halle Holtzman had a goal and an assist and senior Natalie Barkley, senior Alyssa Shields, sophomore Evelyn Moore and junior Alyssa Aquilio also scored in the victory.

Fifth-seeded Norwin (13-4) advanced to face No. 4 Seneca Valley, a team it clipped, 1-0, earlier in the season. The quarterfinal was a rematch from the 2019 semifinals when Norwin won, 1-0.

The first-round win marked Norwin’s 10th shutout of the season.

Unified champions

Norwin was named a 2020 National Banner Unified Champion School by the Special Olympics.

The accomplishment was recognized during the homecoming football game Oct. 22 at Knights Stadium. Only 10 schools in Pennsylvania received the award.

Sophomore Eli Passarelli (Unified Bocce and Unified Track and Field) and senior Michelle Bojalad (Unified Track and Field) spoke during the announcement.

Norwin has had a Unified track and field team since 2016 and Unified bocce team since ’19.

The Peer Buddy Mentor Club (PBMC) has been active since ‘13.

Members of Unified Sports and PBMC host a number of inclusive events and fundraisers during the year, including hosting the Westmoreland County Special Olympics Track and Field event from 2017-19.

College scene

Women’s soccer

• Slippery Rock: Senior back-line teammates Katy Ericson (Norwin) and Emily Arnold (Norwin) have been key contributors to six shutouts this season for the Rock (10-3-2, 9-3-1). Ericson, who has two assists, has started all 15 games. Arnold, with one assist, has played in 14 games and has been in the starting lineup 11 times.

Men’s soccer

• Penn State Behrend: Senior defender Cameron Eckberg (Norwin) was leading the Lions (12-3, 7-0 AMCC) in goals (8) and points (18) through 15 games.

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


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