Seneca Valley boys beat Norwin for 1st WPIAL boys soccer title
The Seneca Valley boys soccer team knew it had to strike early if it wanted to capture gold.
And it did.
The Raiders took the lead in the first minute and never looked back as it topped Norwin, 5-2, in the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game at Highmark Stadium in Station Square.
“We knew we had to be the team to get the first goal,” Seneca Valley junior forward Luke Rupert said. “The game shifted at the first goal. We just kept bouncing back on them.”
It is the first WPIAL boys soccer title for Seneca Valley (17-2-1).
The Raiders took the lead 32 seconds into the game. Seneca Valley unleashed a barrage of shots on Norwin keeper Kyle Krotec in the opening moments, and Rupert collected a deflected shot and buried it into the right corner of the net.
“Being able to start a game like that is huge,” Seneca Valley coach George Williams said. “We tried to get them back down and tell them we had 39 more minutes to play (in the first half) against a good team.”
The Raiders extended their lead to 2-0 at the 26:58 mark as A.J. Mills sent in a deep shot from outside the box past the outstretched hands of Krotec.
Norwin responded as Carter Breen broke free up the far sideline. Will Gallagher came out to challenge, but Breen got past the senior keeper and buried a shot into the left corner of the net.
“Coach Williams had a great gameplan,” Norwin coach Scott Schuchert said. “They got their chances early. Before we could adjust, we were chasing them by two. There was a pivotal time in the first half when some unlucky events happened that made us chase them the entire game. We had our chance.”
The momentum from the Knights’ goal soon shifted back to the Raiders as Jackson Wotus scored three minutes later.
“I think that was the biggest goal of the game for us,” Williams said. “A two-goal lead is so difficult to keep. To answer that way when they scored gave us a tremendous amount of confidence.”
Seneca Valley extended its lead to three goals early in the second half. Rupert sent a deep shot in from outside of the box with just over 31 minutes to play. Zachary LaValle added a goal with 19 minutes to play to round out the Seneca Valley scoring.
Norwin added a goal from Jacob Nebinski in the closing minutes.
“We liked to play our game no matter the situation and do what we do best,” Schuchert said. “This group, even at the very end, is not going to fold or just give in. It was one of those games that we couldn’t get two in a row.”
It was the second game of the season between the teams. Seneca Valley topped Norwin, 2-1, in the season opener Aug. 31.
“Our coaches have been wanting this,” Rupert said. “They didn’t get it a few year ago. And we knew we had to be the group to get it. It was our night.”