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PIAA GIRLS SEMIFINAL PREVIEW: Unbeaten #WPIAL Champs Norwin (24-0) vs Upper St. Clair (18-2-1)


Upper St. Clair stands between Norwin’s perfect season and a spot in the PIAA Finals. (Photo Courtesy of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Upper St. Clair Stands Between Norwin’s Perfect Season, State Finals in Rematch
There are only two WPIAL girls teams remaining in the PIAA soccer playoffs, and they are both in Class AAA — Upper St. Clair and Norwin — in a rematch of the WPIAL Final played at Highmark Stadium on November 7 that the Knights won 3-0 to win their first WPIAL title since 1997.
Girls Class AAA Preview:
Norwin (24-0, WPIAL Champs) vs Upper St. Clair (18-2-1, WPIAL Runner-up)
Tuesday, November 17 at 7 p.m.
at Peters Township
Norwin has steamrolled through the regular season and playoffs unbeaten, untied, and have only surrendered a total of six goals (three in regular season and three in playoffs). This includes a 3-0 win over Tuesday’s opponent, Upper St. Clair, in the WPIAL Finals on November 6 at Highmark Stadium.
Norwin will look across the way — and find a Upper St. Clair team that has found ways to persevere in the playoffs to gain a rematch. The Panthers went the distance in the WPIAL semifinal against Fox Chapel to win on penalty kicks, and after a 4-0 win over Erie McDowell, had a narrow win in the quarterfinals.
On Saturday, at Chambersburg, in their PIAA Quarterfinal, the Norwin girls continued on, rolling past Downingtown West in convincing fashion, 3-0, as Lexi Kolano’s two goals and assist helped the Knights cruise to their 24th win without a loss.
It wasn’t quite as easy for Upper St. Clair in their quarterfinal played earlier in the day at Chambersburg, as they knocked off Downingtown West in the final moments of 2nd Overtime.
Head Coach Dave Gray described his team’s 2-1 win, benefitting on an own goal in the second overtime in one word.
“Perseverance,” said Gray. “It was a bizarre game. Lots of ups and downs. In the end, we found a way.”
Gray was looking ahead after his team’s win on Saturday, knowing that a rematch with Norwin would likely be next.
“Norwin’s deserved everything they’ve gotten this year,” said Gray. “They’ve been very good all year. If we’re going to go to the State Finals, we might as well go through the best team in the state.”
While Norwin beat Upper St. Clair 3-0 in the WPIAL Final, pulling away in the second half, it was a struggle early. In the final 10 minutes of the first half, after the Knights took a 1-0 lead, the momentum in that match swung to the Panthers. Despite a few dangerous shots on goal and plays into the box, Norwin withstood the pressure, and goalie Sam Wexell came up with a few big saves.
Upper St. Clair have a few players that Norwin know well and will have to watch — namely forward Maddie Rocks, and Penn State recruit Emma Hasco in the middle. While Norwin was missing one of their key midfield players in the quarterfinal, Alyssa Victor, due to a leg injury, they still controlled possession and outshot Central Bucks South 24-2. Kolano was making plays and the Knights proved to be too much for their opponents from Eastern PA.
“We know that we’re going to have to play out best against Upper St. Clair,” said Lauren Czabor, Norwin Head Coach, after the win over CB South. “We are excited about this match and expecting an even stronger effort from them this time around.”
Here’s the full post-game interview:

Tuesday’s Winner will take on the other PIAA Semifinal victor between District 1 Champions Central Bucks East and District 3’s Cumberland Valley.
Villa Joseph Marie (District 1) vs Fleetwood (District 3
Mercyhurst Prep (District 10) vs Villa Maria (District 10 Champs)
Trinity (District 3) vs Warrior Run (District 4)
Loyalsock Twp (District 4) vs Karns City (District 9)

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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