Westmoreland County boys soccer notebook: Gritty Norwin climbs in standings

Wednesday, September 20, 2023 | 5:49 PM

Norwin has been one of the hotter teams in the WPIAL of late.

After a 5-1 loss to top-ranked Seneca Valley, the Knights have been on a roll, winning six of seven by a combined score of 22-3.

A 2-1 win over Mt. Lebanon showed the No. 3-ranked Knights can weather a tight finish. Owen Christopher and Alex Brown netted goals, both of which were assisted by Daniel Maddock.

They were tripped up Tuesday by Upper St. Clair, 1-0.

Maddock, who was the go-to scorer early on, is getting help and is creating as the markings and double-teams come.

Senior Owen Christopher said training is a big part of the Knights’ early season success and why the Knights can sustain long possessions and show late stamina.

“Coach (Scott) Schuchert gave us a speech a few weeks ago about why we train,” Christopher said. “From that point forward, we have all held each other accountable and the intensity and focus has been at an all-time high. Every session has a specific focus and each drill has a purpose. We have trained better this season than in years past.”

While Norwin’s wins haven’t always been pretty, they have been tight and physical.

“I think we’ve been the grittiest team in the section thus far,” Christopher said. “We are starting to jell together much better. Possessing out of the back is becoming second nature and in the final third, our combination play continues to get better.”

Senior keeper Anthony Scalise has caught the attention of coach Scotty Schuchert, helping to post three shutouts so far.

“Anthony is a great voice on the field and overall, a great leader,” Christopher said. “He plays with a chip on his shoulder and has kept us alive in every game this season, coming up with huge saves. He always brings positive energy in the locker room and in the huddles.”

Latrobe pulls stunner

Latrobe (5-2, 4-2) made noise Tuesday and shook up the Section 4-3A standings when it stunned perennial power Franklin Regional, 3-0.

The Wildcats are beginning to look like a playoff team.

“I don’t pay attention to rankings or anthing, but you look at (No. 4) Plum and Franklin Regional, they have to be two of the top teams,” Latrobe senior forward Ben Bigi said. “We lost to Plum with 30 seconds left in overtime, and we shut out Franklin Regional. I’m not saying we’re (a ranked team), but we feel like we can play with anybody.”

Leps ranked

Belle Vernon jumped into the Trib Live HSSN Class 2A rankings, taking over the No. 5 spot this week after Beaver was dropped out of the top five.

It also found a spot in the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association top 1o rankings, sliding into the No. 8 spot.

The Leopards stretched their winning streak to five with a 1-0 lead over Mt. Pleasant that moved them a game ahead of the Vikings in Section 3-2A. The streak was snapped in a 2-1 loss to McGuffey on Tuesday night.

By a nose

Belle Vernon junior defender Mason Yeschenko took an elbow to the nose during last week’s Section 3-2A first-place showdown against Mt. Pleasant.

The scene was messy: Blood gushed from his nose and soaked into the golden turf at James Weir Stadium.

Game officials stopped the clock and cleaned it up.

When his coach, and father, Al Yeschenko was asked after the game if Mason had a broken nose, he wasn’t sure but offered, “It wouldn’t be the first time. It’s happened at least twice before.

“He’s broken other bones several times, too.”

Mason Yeschenko quickly regrouped after the bleeding stopped and hopped back into the game. It is not hyperbole to say he might be the toughest player in the WPIAL. He competes in mixed martial arts as a hobby.

“He wants to fight in the Golden Gloves,” Al Yeschenko said. “It’s tough to keep him down. He just gets right back up and keeps going.”

Games to watch

A decent Thursday schedule includes some key section matchups, including Latrobe at Penn-Trafford (Section 4-3A), Greensburg Salem at Jeannette (2-2A), Mt. Pleasant at Yough (3-2A) and Beth-Center at Greensburg Central Catholic (2-A).

A good girls-boys doubleheader Saturday has North Catholic visiting Greensburg Central Catholic. The girls play at 11 a.m., the boys at 1 p.m.

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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