Norwin shuts out North Allegheny to return to WPIAL title game

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Monday, October 30, 2017 | 10:03 PM


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Their gym bags in hand as they arrived and strolled down the track, Norwin looked on as Penn-Trafford pulled out a last-minute victory in the first of two WPIAL Class 4A girls soccer semifinal games Monday night at Fox Chapel.

Seeing the Warriors win gave the Knights a jolt — and all the confidence they needed to win their own semifinal to set up the rubber match with their county rivals.

One team did its part, and the other followed. Now, get ready for an all-Westmoreland title game.

“It was definitely motivation for us to keep fighting,” Norwin senior Katy Ericson said. “We really want another chance to play them.”

Senior Rutgers recruit Emily Harrigan scored a goal and assisted another to pace the fourth-seeded Knights to a 2-0 victory over No. 9 North Allegheny at wind-chilled James M. Burk Athletic Complex.

As time winded down, Norwin students chanted, “We want P-T, we want P-T ... .”

“We had a great feeling it was going to be Norwin and P-T in the finals and everybody had to do their part to make sure each team got there,” Norwin coach Lauren Karcher said. “Penn-Trafford is a great team. We're excited for the soccer spotlight to be on our area for once. That's great for our section in general.”

Norwin (17-1-1) returns to the final for the third straight season and will try to make it a WPIAL three-peat. To do so against the rival Warriors, responsible for the Knights' only defeat (1-0) and tie (0-0) of the season, would be a bonus.

Plus, no team has ever won three straight titles in the WPIAL's largest classification.

The teams will play Thursday, Friday or Saturday at Highmark Stadium at Station Square. The WPIAL had not yet released the times for its eight-game championship schedule.

North Allegheny (12-7-1) will play Upper St. Clair in the consolation game Wednesday to go to the PIAA playoffs.

Norwin wasted little time setting the tone in its third consecutive semifinal, taking a 1-0 lead just two minutes in on a line-drive floater from Harrigan from 30 yards out.

“We wanted to test their keeper early,” Harrigan said. “My mentality was to shoot early.”

It stayed that way until Harrigan possessed the ball in the near corner of the end zone and crossed perfectly to a waiting Ericson. The Slippery Rock recruit did the rest for a 2-0 advantage.

“It was a great play,” Karcher said. “I told Katy, your time is coming and you're going to get a big goal soon. Emily played a great ball and Katy was there to make sure she sealed the deal and put it in.”

Harrigan was pleased to see Ericson drop into the scoring area at an opportune time.

“I was just trying to keep it in and hope somebody was there,” Harrigan said. “And Katy was there to finish. She was definitely due for a goal.”

Senior goalkeeper Sam Wexell made 12 saves in the win. Norwin is 11-1 in the WPIAL playoffs the last three years with eight shutouts.

Norwin blanked North Allegheny, 3-0, in the final game of the regular season.

“We knew some of their girls didn't play last time against us,” Karcher said of North Allegheny. “It was a brand new game. Playoffs are a completely different ball game, and we knew we had to play our best game in order to continue on.”

With the two-goal lead, the Knights played more prevent defense and possession soccer in the second half. The Tigers tried to attack from outside-in, but had a few legit opportunities turned away.

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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