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WPIAL Soccer Super Saturday (2023): Avonworth 3-peats, South Fayette sweeps, Norwin outlasts North Allegheny in shootout

Photo courtesy Ed Thompson

WPIAL Soccer Super Saturday

Saturday, November 4, 2023 | Highmark Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA

PSN Coverage Team:  Reporting John Krysinsky, Matt Popchock; photography Ed Thompson 
FINAL:  Class 2A Girls

Avonworth 1, Shady Side Academy 0  Box Score

Class 3A Girls

South Fayette 1, Moon 0  AET2  PSN Match Report (John Krysinsky)  Box Score

Class 3A Boys

South Fayette 4, Hampton 2  Box Score

Class 4A Boys

Norwin 1, North Allegheny 1 (NORWIN WINS PK SHOOTOUT 5-3)  Box Score

Super Saturday Match Day Updates

Thread from Four Championship Matches included live updates / highlights /commentary / post match reaction and more! 

North Allegheny vs Norwin

FINAL — NORWIN 1, NORTH ALLEGHENY 1 (Norwin wins PK shootout, 5-3)

First WPIAL Title in Norwin Boys Soccer history!

92′ — Things really opening up and going back and forth. Norwin quick cross from right to far post sees Halberg and Accamando collide at post as ball gets past both.

88′ — Wild sequence for @boysnorwin — first Maddock from right edge sends a dangerous ball through the goal box — then it comes to Luke Halberg on the other side, who quickly sends another ball across but both just miss catching the inside of posts.

83′ — An absolute rocket coming from Norwin’s Owen Christopher from about 20 yards out — that forces a quick reaction save from NA’s GK Dante Accamando.


73′ — GOAL ! Norwin’s Daniel Maddock rises above the crowded box on a pinpoint corner — and it’s now tied here late in WPIAL Boys Class 4A Final. Buckle up — there’s no quit in this Norwin team. Lets see how North Allegheny responds

55′ — Norwin with a close range free kick (blocked) and a corner (cleared away) — but still nothing substantial.


Well played, fast paced 1st 40 minutes. NA has been on the front foot for large portions, but credit to Norwin weathering a few storms, and creating some moments. In second half, they’ll need to capitalize on them.

35′ — All-State/All-WPIAL MF Owen Christopher bends a nice, right-footed free kick for Norwin but just goes over bar.

29′ — NA’s Zach Nash has room just inside left edge, and fires a hard lining shot that forces Norwin keeper Anthony Scaliese to dive and punch away.

13′ — GOAL — North Allegheny, 1-0

Luke Brady The senior forward wins a foot race to ball that bounces over to left side of the box, beating two Norwin defenders, and sends a one-time laser right over the head of GK Anthony Scalise.

7′ — North Allegheny trying to work the width — finding a chance early as Joey Voijtas has a close range shot but Norwin keeper Anthony Scaliese is there for the stop.

6:05 — the match has kicked off!

Hampton vs South Fayette


A record 1️⃣9️⃣th district crown for the Lions.  And, it’s a SOUTH FAYETTE SWEEP! 

SOUTH FAYETTE 4-2 Hampton.
Our 3rd time in 4 years witnessing a #WPIALSoccer boys/girls sweep.
A record 1️⃣9️⃣th district crown for the Lions.

2nd Half Thread 

41′ – The Lions get the first touch of the second half, and we’re back to action!

HT 0-3 SF

51′ – Hampton has played this half on the collective front foot, but still can’t find an answer for Rob Eldridge’s 4-5-1. List fires a shot to his left, from the top of the box, that just skitters wide for a goal kick.
HT 0-3 SF
56′ – Plasko, on the left flank, is looking for a dagger for South Fayette, but backup keeper Bierker does well to cut down the angle and earn a goal kick.
HT 0-3 SF
You can break out the chapeaus for Luke Gillen! Cole Johnson, from the top of the box, slides the ball low to Gillen, who tucks it right into the upper 90.
Time to strike up the band and rev up the twin parades in South Fayette Township.
HT 0-4 SF

67′ – When it’s your night, it’s your night…

Fiscus tries a quasi-bike right in the middle of the box, and Janoski barely gets a hand on it, leaping to his left.

HT 0-4 SF

Or is it?
Coleman Docherty appeared to get the last touch on a ball that, from our vantage point, did not completely cross the line. But the Talbots are awarded a goal by the trailing official nevertheless, as Janoski is denied a ninth clean sheet of 2023.
HT 1-4 SF
A high, arching pass to the right wing is headed high, and headed into the far corner of the net by Luke Fiscus, the All-WPIAL forward, and the plot thickens…
HT 2-4 SF

1st Half Thread

3:37 p.m. EDT – Matt Popchock here, back again for one last weekend tour of duty at Highmark Stadium, as we await the opening kickoff of the WPIAL Boys’ Class 3A Final between Hampton and South Fayette.

Can South Fayette become the latest WPIAL school to sweep a boys’ and girls’ soccer championship, and earn their incredible 19th title all-time?

Or will those scrappy Talbots, after going unbeaten in 3A-Sec. 1, claim their second district crown in a three-year span?

Watch this space for updates!


Plasko, Belcufine, Thompson, Gillen, Dadey, Johnson, Sidhom, Casillo, Finke, Garbin, Janoski (GK).
Docherty, Ware, Spinola, Fiscus, Muchenski, List, Jordan, Killmeyer, Cole, Struble, Guinn (GK).
1′ – The Talbots get the first touch, and the Boys 3A Soccer Final is underway at Highmark!
HT 0-0 SF
A header by co-captain James Casillo right in the middle of the box, off a corner kick at the flag to the right of Guinn, finds the back of the net.
HT 0-1 SF
Nate Belcufine, deep on the left wing, with a perfect cross to Luke Gillen at the far post, who makes no mistake about that one. The higher-seeded Talbots are on the ropes early.
HT 0-2 SF
12′ – Belcufine, again, caught Guinn out of position, and was trying to get on the end of a ball toward the open goal, but Killmeyer got in the way to prevent a third Lions goal in a 10-minute span.
HT 0-2 SF

15′ – Head coach Matt McAwley subs out his keeper. Landen Bierker, a sophomore, is the new man between the sticks for Hampton.

HT 0-2 SF

16′ – Ware gets a good chance to pull one back for Hampton, but Janoski’s back line shields him well inside the 6-yard box. Fiscus chips the rebound well over the bar for a Lions goal kick.
HT 0-2 SF
19′ – Perhaps the Talbots are starting to grow into this match. Fiscus now has all kinds of space on the left, but fires a 20-yarder that’s easily stopped by Janoski.
HT 0-2 SF

20′ – Bierker is tested for the first time on a corner kick at the flag to his left, off the foot of Johnson, who set up the first South Fayette goal.

While Guinn seems to be recovering from a lower-leg injury of some sort, Bierker aggressively punches away the set piece.

HT 0-2 SF

Luke Gillen is all about the BRACE, ’bout that brace, no treble!
Belcufine, right down Carson Street, rips one from 30 yards that Bierker stops, but the big, juicy rebound is no contest for Gillen.
HT 0-3 SF

25′ – Docherty drives the left wing and has a step on the defense, but Janoski makes his best stop of the afternoon. The Talbots could certain use more of those chances from Fiscus’ supporting cast.

HT 0-3 SF

29′ – The Talbots earn a free kick from a dangerous spot. Struble yields to Spinola, who drives it low to the far post, but Janoski is there, from his knees, to knock it aside.

HT 0-3 SF

HALFTIME. Hampton 0-3 South Fayette.
An early onslaught by the Lions, punctuated by Luke Gillen’s brace, and some textbook ball movement by the South Fayette attack, have the underdogs within 40′ of a boys’/girls’ WPIAL championship sweep.
Both teams with 4 shots on frame. Adam Thompson is being credited with the assist on Casillo’s set piece goal for South Fayette.
Lions with a 52% to 48% edge in possession. 5 corners to Hampton’s 3.
Hampton spent 64% of its possession time in the defensive half.
HT 0-3 SF

Moon vs South Fayette


First-ever soccer title for South Fayette girls.  Defending two-time WPIAL champs, Moon, are dethroned.

Mia Deramo’s golden goal lifts South Fayette to eclipse Moon and win first-ever WPIAL title


91′ (AET) — South Fayette earns free kick — they send everyone over to right side — but Abbey Spalla takes a run at sending it to left side of goal, but Moon GK Serayah Leech, is there to take the hard lining shot right in the bread basket.
87′ (AET) — Yellow Card issued to South Fayette’s Mia Patel before Moon attempts a corner.
Back-to-back corners for Tigers and ball can’t connect with anyone in crowded box.


Little bit of urgency from the Lions late led to a few corner chances, but sending balls directly at Moon GK Serayah Leech isn’t going to do much. Extra time for two sides who played full 110 minutes on Tues

66′ —

43′ — Early in 2nd half now… Moon has had the same free kick from between 40-45 yards about eight times now. Every time either it’s right to SF keeper Caitlyn Thompson or goes over goal. Maybe try at least one quick restart? Maybe play one wide?


Shots: SF 8, Moon 7; Saves 5/5, Corners 2-1 Moon, Fouls SF 7, Moon 5

40′ — Last chance of 1st half — Kendall Dydek lofts a high ball on goal — and nearly tricks up SF’s keeper Caitlyn Thompson, but she keeps her feet and secure the ball like a punt returner.

31′ — Moon’s Sydney Felton gets near center of box, runs into pair of South Fayette defenders, and attempts a shot, but SF’s keeper Caitlyn Thompson denies the shot.

25′ — First 25 minutes have played out as expected between Moon-South Fayette. Neither side giving much — bunch of free kicks from beyond threatening locations.

1:15 p.m. — Match kicks off right on time.  Not exepcting much scoring — as Moon has allowed just two goals all season — both to South Fayette.  South Fayette has also not been scored upon in the playoffs.

FINAL: Avonworth 1, Shady Side Academy 0 



@AGSLopes keeps the Girls 2A #WPIALSoccer title, surviving two threatening free kicks in the final minute by the Bulldogs to claim a 1-0 victory!

Second Half Thread 

41′ – The Lopes get the first touch of the second half, and, moments later, Petrina barely misses curling in a shot of her own from the right corner of the box. Goal kick to the Bulldogs.

AV 1-0 SSA

44′ – Petrina takes the through ball from Syam and tries to chip an oncoming Ravotti, and luckily, for Ravotti’s sake, Petrina’s attempt lands atop the net for a goal kick.

AV 1-0 SSA

46′ – Shady Side’s best chance of the match ends up being a free kick from midfield by Van Horn that Zimmerman stands tiptoe to catch. One of the Bulldogs smakcs into Zimmerman, knocking the ball across the line, but the goal does not stand.

AV 1-0 SSA

48′ – Luther’s shot from the left wing, right atop the box, is caught by a well-placed Ravotti. The Lopes are not letting that close call at their own end deter their killer instinct…
AV 1-0 SSA
49′ – Oh, my…Jessica “Momo” Hunt, off the bench for JC Mahan, with an excuse-me pass to Babusci, whose 20-yard attempt from deep on the right wing just misses goal.
AV 1-0 SSA
56′ – A yellow card has been issued to Kushnir for a reckless challenge in the middle third. The Bulldogs are now on their heels as Mahan, double-teamed deep on the right wing, forces a save from Ravotti from a bad angle.
AV 1-0 SSA

62′ – Babusci is behind the back line, flying down the left flank, but her attempt is right at Ravotti at the near post.

Moments later, Nau is issued a yellow card for an egregious foul along the near touchline, deep in the defensive third.

Both teams have had a player put on notice.

AV 1-0 SSA

68′ – Now the Bulldogs are shifting their double-team to Babusci, whose golazo remains the difference. Babusci shot from roughly the same spot, this time, does not bend, and is grabbed up top by Ravotti.
AV 1-0 SSA
79′ – Kushnir tries to get on the end of a long ball right at Zimmerman, but the Avonworth keeper comes off her line and grabs it in the nick of time.
AV 1-0 SSA

First Half Thread

10:59 a.m. EDT –

Mahan, Sweeney, Padalino, Nau, Syam, Luther, Petrina, O’Brien, Babusci, Schleis, Zimmerman (GK).
McCargo, Kushnir, Barker, Suttelle, Powers, Danforth, Navid, Recchi, Van Norman, Liptak, Ravotti (GK).
1′ – Bulldogs get the first touch, and we’re underway in the Girls 2A Final at Highmark!
AV 0-0 SSA
4′ – Mahan is fouled, earning a free kick right down the middle. From 30 yards out, her shot smacks right into the 3-player wall and away from danger.
AV 0-0 SSA
11′ – Syam is fouled at the edge of the box, earning a dangerous free kick, and Mahan clangs it right off the left stick and out of bounds. Big break for the Bulldogs, as that shot completely froze Ravotti.
AV 0-0 SSA
15′ – Wow…a mad scramble off an Avonworth corner kick at the flag to the left of Ravotti…and it looked like Syam nudged it over the line with Ravotti trying to hang on. After a pregnant pause, officials decide it’s a goal kick to the Bulldogs. Shady Side definitely got a generous call.
AV 0-0 SSA
21′ – Mahan has taken every free kick for the Lopes thus far. Babusci earns one at the left corner of the 18-yard box, but the Alabama commit sails it over the bar.

AV 0-0 SSA

35′ – Babusci cuts inside the box and drives a ball low that forces Ravotti to dive to the near post to make the save.

AV 0-0 SSA


Mamma Mia! Gianna Babusci with a 25-yard bender from the left elbow, and it goes way beyond a leaping Ravotti. Tough blow for the Bulldogs, who were playing a good game of rope-a-dope to this point.

AV 1-0 SSA

40′ – HALFTIME. Avonworth 1-0 Shady Side.

The Lopes had built up staggering possession numbers, but couldn’t get anything to click in the final third until Babusci took matters into her own hands in the 39th minute.

Certainly felt like the Lopes were owed one after the controversial call at 15′.

The Lopes finished the first half with a 65% to 35% edge in possession, which almost feels like an unkind estimate. Navid is credited with the Bulldogs’ lone shot, and shot on frame, of the first half.

Babusci has registered three shots, two on target, including her wonder-strike in the last minute.

Avonworth has nine total shot attempts on the day.

Match Previews/Capsules

Girls Class 2A   #1 Avonworth (17-1-2) vs #7 Shady Side Academy (15-3-1) 


Head Coach – JC Mahan |  Roster | WPIAL Titles: 2021, 2022 

How they got to the WPIAL Final: The two-time defending champs, with a talented and experienced cast, led by USYNT player pool candidate, Fiona Mahan, Avonworth finished the regular season tied for first in Section 1, with rival North Catholic, who was the only team to beat the ‘Lopes this season — in a 1-0 result on very confined J.C. Stone Field.  Avonworth played some tough competition out of section/classification this season, including a wild 4-4 draw vs Ohio champions, Canfield.  In the playoffs the Lopes defeated No. 16 Yough, 11-0, in the first round; No. 9 Quaker Valley, 4-3, in the quarterfinals; and No. 5 South Park, 2-1, in the semifinals.

Shady Side Academy

Head Coach – Mary Lynch |  Roster | WPIAL Titles: 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 

How they got to the WPIAL Final: In the regular season, Shady Side Academy finished second to South Park beat No. 10 Deer Lakes, 3-0, in the first round; No. 2 North Catholic, 3-1, in the quarterfinals; and No. 6 Burrell, 3-0, in the semifinals.

Sizing Up Avonworth vs Shady Side 

Mahon, who committed to Alabama earlier this Fall, had the game winning goal in the past two Class 2A Finals, and will be a player that SSA will focus on shutting down, however, the Lopes have a talented group, with four total players who were recognized as All-WPIAL selections: Mahon along with senior forward Gianna Babusci, senior midfielders Emma Luther and Minah Syam.

Avonworth and Pittsburgh Riverhounds midfielder Fiona Mahan receives invite to USYNT U17 Camp

With Mahan, who may move around between midfield and forward, as she often is the primary mark of opponents, Babusci has thrived this season, scoring a team high 23 goals.  Syam, who also plays for the Riverhounds Development Academy (ECNL 04/05 with Mahan), has been key presence in the midfield during this impressive run for Avonworth.  Shady Side Academy have numerous talented underclassmen leading the way including Riverhounds Academy standout, sophomore goalkeeper Maria Ravotti, plus Sarah Kushnir, a sophomore forward/midfielder, senior midfielder Caroline Liptak, junior midfielder Lucille McCargo and sophomore keeper Maria Ravotti were named to the All-WPIAL team. Kushnir had 27 goals in the regular season, and Liptak added 18. Liptak, Kushnir and Ella Van Norman scored in the semifinals against Burrell. Ravotti earned the shutout.

Girls Class 3A   #3 Moon (15-1-2) vs #5 South Fayette (14-4-2) 

Moon:  Head Coach: Bill Pfeifer | Roster  | WPIAL Titles – 2004, 2016, 2017, 2021, 2022

How they got to the WPIAL Final: The two-time defending WPIAL and PIAA champions scraped and clawed their way through the playoffs beating Connellsville (3-0), Latrobe (1-0) and beating another section 4 rival, Montour, in a match that went to a penalty kick shootout. ,  The Tigers remain a strong, cohesive group, led by veteran Head Coach Bill Pfeifer, who is the all-time leader in wins in the WPIAL.

South Fayette: Head Coach Nicholas Rosser | Roster | WPIAL Titles: None

How they got to the WPIAL Final: The Lions defeated No. No. 12 Penn-Trafford, 5-0, in the first round; No. 4 Thomas Jefferson, 3-0, in the quarterfinals; and in the semifinal round, they went the distance, knocking off No. 1 Moon in a PK shootout at Dormont Stadium. PSN’s Mark Goodman was there…

South Fayette squeak by Mars to WPIAL 3A Final

Sizing Up Moon vs South Fayette 

Goals have been very hard to come by in a lot of the matches between the top teams in this classification this season — and in these playoffs.

This is the third time this season that the section rivals will meet. South Fayette is the only team to defeat Moon this season, and in the past couple of years, and heading into this match, they have the upper hand in the season series, as they won 1-0 in the first meeting, then the two teams tied 1-1 in early October.

In the semifinal against Mars, in what was essentially a tightly contested match, South Fayette came out with better possession and more speed in the first 20 minutes of both the first and second halves, but their finishing let them down. The Lions ended regulation with no fewer than 8 shots, and a few more in the two overtime periods.  They remained on the front foot against a team that had only surrendered one goal all season.

Defender Anna Fraps has been a key leader out of the back for a South Fayette program that has really turned heads this season, and in the playoffs, as they’ve limited every team they’ve played, bagging three clean sheets in beating Thomas Jefferson and Penn-Trafford — and going to the penalty kick shootout vs No. 1 Mars.  Senior midfielder Abbigail Rosser and freshman defender Abbey Spalla were picked to the All-WPIAL team.

If this match comes down to PK shootout, there’s a pair of excellent goalkeepers who will be ready for the challenge.

Caitlyn Thompson – came up big in critical spots for South Fayette in the semifinal, and all season long.  Against Mars, in the shootout, Thompson made a spectacular diving save on the second Mars PK, and swatted a ball off the line on the fourth penalty that required a second-effort dive to keep it barely out, averted certain disaster in a dramatic moment.

Moon’s goalkeeper Serayah Leech has now posted 52 (!!!!) career shutouts, including the first three rounds of the playoffs.  Leech, an IUP commit, has been the primary keeper for the Tigers since her freshman season, winning a pair of WPIAL and PIAA titles along the way.

While the Tigers lost some talented players from their WPIAL/PIAA back-to-back championship teams, there’s a core group here with experience, who have been key players for this team and were honored as all-WPIAL recipients last week including: senior midfielder Sydney Felton, senior defenders Gabrielle Larson and Marina Mollica, junior midfielder Lilly Snyder and Leech.

Guess who is the only team that scored upon Leech this season?

You guessed it, South Fayette.

Boys Class 3A  #2 Hampton (17-2-1) vs #8 South Fayette

Hampton | Head Coach Matt McCawley | Roster  | WPIAL Titles – 1990, 2010, 2011, 2021

How they got here:  Hampton also needed Extra Time to defeat Trinity, 1-0, as Coleman Docherty scored the game-winner, then edged Indiana, 2-1, in Extra time as Aidan Cole and Docherty scored for the Talbots. In the semifinal round, the Talbots put an end to No. 11 Franklin Regional surprising run with a 2-0 win, with Cole and Luke Fiscus scoring the goals.

South Fayette | Head Coach Rob Eldridge | Roster | WPIAL Titles – 18 (most in WPIAL History — most recent coming in 2015)

How they got here:  South Fayette defeated Latrobe, 4-0, then defeated No. 1 Plum, 1-0 in the Quarterfinal, thanks to making the most of a free kick chance from Adam Thompson.  In the semifinal round, South Fayette outlasted section rival Montour, 2-1, to advance to its first final since 2015. Nathan Belculfine and Cole Johnson scored the goals for the Lions in the win that got them a ticket to Highmark Stadium.

Sizing Up Hampton vs South Fayette 

This year in Class 3A, the playoff tournament started as it really was anyone’s guess who could survive a crowded field of talented and overachieving teams.

Of all the teams in the field, Hampton has been the steadiest through both the regular season and against playoff competition, just like they were two years ago, when they had a senior laden squad, that win the whole thing, upsetting a Franklin Regional.  McCawley was recently recognized as NFHS Coach of the Year for his achievements — primarily leading Hampton to WPIAL/PIAA titles in 2021.  Luke Fiscus, a senior forward, has 33 goals this season and was named to the all-state and all-WPIAL teams, is the lone holdover starter from the team that won the WPIAL/PIAA’s in 2021. Senior forward Coleman Docherty has been a player that opponents have to mark (20 goals) and senior defender Oliver Spinola has led a defending unit that has only allowed one goal in the playoffs to this point. The Talbots’ lone losses came against Class 4A North Allegheny and Pine-Richland, both by one goal.

South Fayette, under veteran coach Rob Eldridge, who won his 300th match in the semifinal win, always have a way of making life difficult for its opponents.  Michael Plasko was a force in the first round win, scoring all four goals in the Lions’ 4-0 win vs Latrobe. Also, goalkeeper Dylan Janoski, who plays for the Riverhounds Development Academy, has posted eight clean sheets this season, including two in the playoffs.

These are two well-coached, disciplined teams, as this match could likely come down to one play here or there, that will make a difference.

Boys Class 4A #2 North Allegheny vs #8 Norwin

North Allegheny | Head Coach Manuel Montero  | Roster  | WPIAL Titles – 1975, 1976, 1978, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2016, 2017

How they got here: Prior to his first match at North Allegheny Head Boys Soccer coach, PSN interviewed Manuel Montero prior to Pine-Richland tournament, and it was clear, that he was working through implementing a new system, after the program had been under the direction of long-time coach, Bobby Vosmaer, a former Pittsburgh Spirit player who built NA into a powerhouse program from the 1990s through 2020.

Although the first season brought some learning curves, that included being left out of the WPIAL playoffs, Montero brought the Tigers back in the fold as a legitimate title contender this season.   NA’s only loss came in the regular season section finale, to Seneca Valley.  Last Saturday, North Allegheny had no problem in its first round match — beating Canon McMillan, 6-1.  On Tuesday night, at Hampton, the Tigers outlasted section rival Butler, 3-2, in a match where they took the early lead, then added two early second half goals to break a 1-1 tie.

Norwin | Head Coach Scott Schuchert (Interim – Carter Breen)| Roster | WPIAL Titles –

How they got here: WPIAL Boys soccer Class 4A Cinderella is still dancing!  During the season, Norwin played Section 1 champs, Upper St Clair to a hard-fought, 1-1 draw to close section play, and owned wins against the other playoff-bound teams in their section, and finished with one more win in section competition than Canon-McMillan, but they were pushed them down to a No. 8 overall seed in this classification.

Entering the tournament with a major chip on its shoulders for being seeded 8th out of eight teams, last Saturday that didn’t stop the Knights from pulling off one of the biggest the Round 1 upsets in tournament history, by taking down previously unbeaten, defending PIAA champs  Seneca Valley, in a match that ended 2-2, but needed to be decided on Penalty Kicks.

Norwin pulled off another upset, beating No. 5 Fox Chapel, 2-1, at Hampton in the first game of the double header.

Relishing role as underdog, Norwin converts its chances to beat Fox Chapel, 2-1, to return to WPIAL Final


Sizing Up North Allegheny vs Norwin 

Make no mistake — Boys Class 4A hasn’t provided the prettiest soccer at times this year — and the last team standing in the WPIAL Championship game may be the ultimate survivor of the fittest.

Lots of physical play and whistles were blown in both of the semifinal matches played at Hampton on Tuesday night, with Norwin finding a way to outlast a very talented Fox Chapel side, thanks to scoring on a counter chance, while North Allegheny battled tooth-and-nail with section rival Butler, and held on for a 3-2 win.

Norwin will be again be without Head Coach Scott Schuchert, who will have to sit out the second game of a two-match suspension after receiving a red card in the upset win vs Seneca Valley. Schuchert tried to appeal the suspension, but wasn’t able to overturn the suspension.

The Knights played hard, and were inspired in the semifinal win, as they were led by a committee of coaches, including former Norwin Knight and Duquesne player, Carter Breen and assistant coach Mike Powers.  Breen, who led the Knights to the WPIAL Final in 2018 (5-2 loss to Seneca Valley), believes that his team’s mental toughness carried them to a couple playoff wins.

“Yeah, there were troubles we had during this game, but we got it back from a mental standpoint, and that was our biggest strength today,” Breen said after the 2-1 win vs Fox Chapel, in a match where they were mostly out-possessed and outshot.

“It’s playoff soccer, and it comes down to who wants it the most. We finished our chances, and that’s what set us apart.”

The Knights kept the clean sheet thanks in large part to well-organized defensive structure and outstanding play from goalkeeper from Anthony Scalise, who made numerous saves.

In addition, North Allegheny had to fight off section rival Butler, holding on a 3-2 victory in a hard-fought match.  Zack Nash showed off his playmaking abilities with a clever pass to a streaking Nathan Katari for the match’s first goal.  After Butler scored late in the first half to equalize, NA showed its quick strike capability, as junior Mykola Denysenko drilled a shot off the crossbar — then alertly hit the rebound clean into the back of the net for his second goal of the season.

North Allegheny has Dante Accamando, a standout goalkeeper, who certainly impressed PSN coverage team in his appearances at the Pine-Richland tournament in recent seasons, but also leading the way on the scoresheet are Nash  (12 goals) and Arnav Patel (8 goals) are also All-WPIAL selections.

Norwin played more direct and were constantly winning second balls throughout its win vs Fox Chapel, allowing them opportunities to spring a few counter chances as that’s when they were most dangerous. In the first half, after Fox Chapel kept bringing pressure, Norwin countered with Alex Brown finding some space on the right side to advance to the end line, then sent a low cross, which was deflected, but found the feet of Daniel Maddox Jr. for the finish,

In the second half, after drawing a few fouls when getting forward, the Knights capitalized when they lined up for what was roughly a 40-plus yard free kick, coming off the foot of Maddox Jr., On the set piece, the ball went into the center of the box, was deflected and careened off Fox Chapel keeper Connor Scanlan. It was Owen Christopher, who was named to all-State team earlier that day, was there to put the loose ball into the goal to break a tie late in the second half.

From that point, Norwin locked things down, to limit any chances for the talent Foxes to find an equalizer.

Again, it was a second ball and a effort play that pushed Norwin past Fox Chapel, and into the Final.

“They just scrambled. Played with a lot of intensity. They were constantly moving, pressing and made things hard for us,” Fox Chapel’s Head Coach, Erik Ingram said.

It will be North Allegheny’s first appearance in the WPIAL Final since 2017, when they won back-to-back titles, led by eventual Lehigh/Pitt standout, Josh Luchini, while Norwin (14-5-1) returns to the Final for the first time since 2018, when they lost to Seneca Valley, 5-2. Norwin has never won a WPIAL Boys Soccer title.


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