Westmoreland County boys soccer notebook: Pieces fitting together for Norwin

Wednesday, September 29, 2021 | 10:01 AM

Norwin coach Scott Schuchert thinks his team is rounding into form, on the scoreboard and across the lineup.

“We’re finding our identity,” he said after a recent 4-1 victory over Penn-Trafford that kept the third-ranked Knights undefeated in Section 3-4A. “Our back-line guys have really played well for us. We have a goalkeeper, two good wingers. We moved Caleb Yuricha up, and that has benefited us. We can just let him go.”

While the offense starts with Yuricha, a dynamic senior forward with speed and moves, the defense has helped Norwin post four shutouts. The Knights allowed eight goals in their first eight games, but five came against No. 1 Seneca Valley in their only loss.

The Knights (7-1-1) tied Plum, 0-0, on Saturday.

“Owen Christopher, Ryan Dimitroff and Andy Yanez are so good back there, but they often get overlooked with Caleb and Riley up top,” Schuchert said.

“Owen is a sophomore but plays like a senior. Dimitroff is one of the best center backs I have ever coached here.”

Yuricha had 20 of the team’s first 31 goals of the season.

Senior Riley Zimmerman also fuels the offense, along with sophomore Alex Brown.

Norwin blanked Central Catholic and Allderdice by 3-0 scores. Schuchert said his team’s performance against Central was “perfect.”

“A lot is going well for us right now,” Schuchert said. “We’re a top-five team, and we’re confident. But we know it’s going to be a challenge every game.”

The recent return of senior Ryan Harrigan from injury also gave the Knights a boost.

DiFalco on a tear

Some players don’t get a hat trick during an entire season. Franklin Regional senior Anthony DiFalco had one in the first eight minutes of Saturday’s game at Woodland Hills.

DiFalco, who has been as much a facilitator as a goal-scorer for the Panthers, scored three times before the Wolverines could settle into a formation in a 6-0 victory.

Heading into Monday’s game at rival Plum, which dealt Franklin Regional its only loss, the Panthers had won eight straight games, seven via shutout.

DiFalco, already Franklin Regional’s all-time leading goal scorer, had crept within two goals of 100 for his career after a 4-1 loss to Plum.

Missing Mocello

Belle Vernon has lost three straight games, which is somewhat of a surprise but maybe not as much when considering a key player is out of the lineup.

Senior Tyler Mocello, the team’s top center back, has missed most of the season with an ankle injury. The setback has not stopped him from qualifying for the WPIAL Class 3A individual golf finals. He shot 81 to finish inside the top 36 and advance to the championship Oct. 5 at Nemacolin Country Club.

Leopards soccer coach Al Yeschenko hopes to get Mocello back later in the regular season and possibly the playoffs.

Slow your roll

Rob Fabian, the first-year coach at Greensburg Central Catholic, is limiting his players’ goal production in section games.

If they get a hat trick against a Section 2-A opponent, it’s time to pass or rest.

“Once you get to three, that’s it,” Fabian said. “If it’s a nonsection game or playoff game, we’ll take the reins off.”

Young energy

Penn-Trafford is in the thick of the Class 4A playoff race this season, but the Warriors’ best games might lie ahead. That is because the team has just four seniors: goalkeeper A.J. Visco, forwards Nathan Schlessinger and Conner Williams, and defender Howard Wu.

“Our gameplan coming into the season was to get more balance from the offense,” said second-year coach Sotiri Tsourekis. “That has worked out well for us so far. We have had a number of goal-scorers.”

The Warriors have 17 sophomores and six freshmen, and many of them are playing this year.

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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