Westmoreland County girls soccer preview: Good luck keeping up with Norwin
Tuesday, September 8, 2020 | 8:39 PM
Team speed is a trait often associated with girls soccer at Norwin. Opponents can feel more like track sprinters as they chase the Knights down the field and back.
Expect more foot races to the goal again this fall.
Of all the skilled teams with wheels that Norwin has trotted out over the last several years, this one could be the Usain Bolt of the group.
Ready, set …
“It’s very well possible,” senior midfielder Lacey Bernick said. “We have tons of speed coming from all different positions.”
Bernick and fellow senior Pitt recruit Katelyn Kauffman, a forward/midfielder, will set the pace and power the offense as Norwin looks to make another deep postseason push.
A formidable pair if there ever was one, Bernick and Kauffman are nominees for the High School All-American Game in May.
“Lacey and Kate have always brought a ton of energy and are both fantastic players who bring a lot to the table, and we expect to see them step up again this year,” Knights coach Lauren Karcher said. “As a whole, our senior class is incredibly talented. They are our last group who were a part of the (state championship) team, so it’s safe to say they’ve had a taste and want it all.”
Norwin (18-3) made the WPIAL finals for the fourth time in five years last season. The Knights were the Class 4A runners-up to North Allegheny and fell to Erie McDowell in the first round of the PIAA playoffs to finish at 18-3.
Other key returnees for the Knights include seniors Morgan Sigut (F/MF), Anna Durmis (defender), Maddie Rose (D) and Liz Waszkiewicz (GK), and juniors Emma Rigone (D), Paloma Swankler (F) and Riley Morningstar (GK).
Others to watch
• After finishing 16-5 and claiming a section title with a perfect 12-0 mark, Belle Vernon has the look of a contender in Class 3A.
All-American Game nominee Jillian Butchki leads a talented attack that also now includes senior Izzy Laurita, who only played a couple of games last year before leaving the team.
“We have a lot of talent,” coach Tracy Lovett said. “We just have to see where everyone fits to best serve the team.”
• Yough has a tall task in replacing all-time leading goal-scorer Justine Appolonia, and a strong supporting cast, that propelled the Cougars to the WPIAL 2A championship game and the greatest playoff run in program history.
Senior fourth-year starter Natalie Vilchek (19 goals), who has been hobbled early by an injury, should be one of the team’s top offensive threats. Watch sophomore McKenzie Pritts, too. She quiety registered 25 goals as a freshman. Senior Nicole Croushore is a solid defender.
“I believe we can compete for a section title again, and once you make the playoffs, anything can happen,” Yough coach Dann Appolonia said. “We will have quite a few new starters this year so, unlike last year, I expect there will be a learning curve to get through.”
• WPIAL Class A runner-up Greensburg Central Catholic should be in the title mix again under new coach Olivia Kruger. The Centurions reached the PIAA semifinals.
Several key offensive threats return, including juniors Tatum Gretz, a Villanova commit, and Bethany Winnor, who will help lead the defense.
Other top returnees are seniors Sam Felder (F), Jessica Nemeth (MF), Alexa Gill (D) and Hannah Nelson (D).
• New Penn-Trafford coach Jimmy Mastroianni has nine returning seniors but will have to replace stop-everything goalkeeper Megan Giesey (38 shutouts), who is now at Pitt-Johnstown.
Junior Malia Kearns (12 goals) can be one of the top midfielders in Class 4A.
• Franklin Regional, now coached by Scott Arnold, brings back junior midfielder Sydney Lindeman, an all-WPIAL player, junior Sydney Kranick, and senior goalkeeper Sydney Caldwell.
The Panthers returned to the WPIAL playoffs after missing out in 2018, only the second time that happened under former coach Rich Garland’s watch in 20 years. Garland, who had 211 wins, is now coaching at Mt. Pleasant.
• Garland’s Mt. Pleasant team features two Division I players in Mackenzie Leeder (Duquesne) and Brooke Ulery (Cleveland State). Leeder is on the All-American game watch list, while Ulery returns after missing time last season because of an injury. Those players, and the addition of Garland, make the Vikings dangerous.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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