Westmoreland soccer notebook: Boys teams take center stage this fall
Girls soccer teams from Westmoreland County had turned the WPIAL finals into an annual pilgrimage to Highmark Stadium.
The boys, not so much.
But times are changing, at least for this season.
While no local girls teams made it to the championship games for the first time since 2009, three boys teams will play for titles over the next three days at Station Square.
That is something that never has happened.
Norwin (AAAA), Franklin Regional (AAA) and Greensburg C.C. (A) have their sights on titles.
Norwin’s girls won WPIAL titles in 2015 and ’16 and a PIAA title last year. The boys team was bounced in the first round seven straight years before this season.
“That’s what’s special about Norwin,” boys coach Scott Schuchert said. “We all support each other 100 percent. There was no jealously there, just more motivation for the boys to get a banner hung on the wall.
GCC’s girls had made WPIAL finals seven consecutive years and won five Class A titles since 2010 The Centurions boys team had not made the finals since ’12 and have not won a championship since ’09.
“We just couldn’t get a team all on one page working together as a unit,” GCC boys coach Tyler Solis said. “So I think they finally trusted the system and found their identity together this year. These things take time. This is my third year with the boys, and they know what I expect.”
Schuchert, like Franklin Regional coach Rand Hudson, expected his team to go far in the postseason, even if it was a slow and patient build-up to get there.
“This group has had something special brewing for many years now,” Schuchert said. “I started coaching the majority of the boys when they were 7 and 8 years old. I knew once this senior class got to high school, Norwin would have the building blocks to win the championship.
“These boys have had pressure on them from Day 1 and are ready for the big time.”
GCC is the only local team to win a title in boys soccer. It won in 2003, ’04 and ’09. It was a runner-up in 2001, ‘10 and ’12.
The Big 5/6 Conference, which follows the WPIAL’s two largest classifications, announced its 2018 all-conference teams.
Boys first-team selections from Section 3-AAAA are: seniors Carter Breen, Jake Nebinski, Zach Ullum and Kyle Krotec of Norwin; seniors Marchall Kalning and Matt Henderson of Latrobe; and senior Noah Schlessinger of Penn-Trafford.
Schuchert was named the section’s coach of the year.
Girls picks from Section 3-AAAA included: junior Sydney Patrick of Hempfield; senior Maddy Genicola, junior Eva Frankovic, and sophomores Katelyn Kauffman and Morgan Sigut of Norwin; seniors Kiley Dugan and Erin Brady, and junior Sarah Nguyen of Penn-Trafford; and Latrobe sophomore Maddie Delucio.
Coach of the year went to Norwin’s Lauren Karcher.
With Greensburg Central Catholic losing to Shady Side Academy in the WPIAL third-place game, this will be the first time since 1999 that Westmoreland will not have a girls team in the PIAA soccer playoffs.
GCC had made it every year since 2011.
Norwin junior midfielder Adam Ornowski isn’t the first member of his family to play for a WPIAL boys soccer championship.
His father, Mark, played on the last Knights team to make the finals, in 1989. Norwin lost to Mt. Lebanon, 1-0, in the AAA title game.