Resurgent Norwin knocks off No. 1 Fox Chapel in girls soccer clash

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Monday, October 5, 2020 | 10:45 PM


For more than two decades, Norwin and Penn-Trafford have ping-ponged section titles in girls soccer.

They have been section opponents for a lot longer.

If it wasn’t one bringing home the hardware, it was the other.

A newcomer from Allegheny County is out to change things up in the rivals’ section this season in Fox Chapel.

One problem. Norwin isn’t quite ready to release its grasp on the top spot.

Norwin avoided a Section 3-4A sweep by No. 1 ranked Fox Chapel with a 1-0 victory in Monday night’s rematch at Norwin Knights Stadium.

Fox Chapel looked to moved closer to dethroning Norwin (5-2-1, 4-1-1), but the Knights overcame the absence of three starters — Morgan Sigut, Anna Durmis and Ashley Ornowski — to hand the Foxes (8-1, 6-1) their first loss and stay in the section hunt.

The Foxes had opened a two-and-a-half game lead in the section.

A change in strategy also helped to propel the Knights in their fourth straight game without a loss.

“We switched our formation up so we could better utilize our strengths,” Norwin coach Lauren Karcher said. “We wanted to create more opportunities, and we did that tonight. It might sound strange, but we wanted to get back to basics. That’s what we needed.”

The Foxes, who earlier this season ended the Knights’ 29-game section unbeaten streak with a 2-1 win, were limited offensively.

The teams had played three consecutive one-goal games against one another — the 2016 WPIAL semifinals (Norwin 1-0), last year’s WPIAL quarterfinals (Norwin 4-3 in OT) and earlier this season (Fox Chapel 2-1).

Fox Chapel had five one-goal wins this season, including three in a row, but hadn’t scored more than four goals in a game. This time, they lost by a single score.

“We’re not ready to give anything up,” said Norwin senior Katelyn Kauffman, who had the game’s only goal, her ninth of the season. “We knew we’d have to fight for every single ball.”

Kauffman, a Pitt recruit who had four goals Saturday against Kiski Area, finally undid a 0-0 tie with 13:31 left in the second half when she took a pass from sophomore Alyssa Aquilio, turned, touched to reverse feet and launched past a diving Molly McNaughton for a 1-0 edge.

Kauffman raised her fist after the score.

“That was just so much happiness,” Kauffman said. “I knew it was big to score there because I knew our defense was ready to grind it out for the rest of the game. We knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.”

Norwin had nine shots to three for the Foxes, who had to pose a threat to the Knights’ elite status when they joined the section.

“Everyone was saying we were upset that Fox Chapel got moved to our section,” Karcher said. “That’s not the case. It really raised the level of competition. We were happy to get another chance against them.”

Fox Chapel coach Peter Torres said the game was a case of Norwin creating havoc when his team had the ball.

“We started off slowly and had a hard time regaining possession during the first half,” Torres said. “We made some slight tactical adjustments for the second half and were able to put some pressure on them. They closed quickly on us and forced us into some bad decisions.

“The difference was that Norwin finished a great opportunity and we couldn’t counter that.”

Fox Chapel lost Lucy Ream to an injury with 5:57 to play. The Eastern Kentucky recruit appeared to have a lower body injury and did not return.

The Foxes, despite a greater urgency to score, had very few looks at the net. In fact, only two shots were actually on frame.

“Our defense stepped up,” Karcher said. “We were really strong in the back.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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