Last Updated: Sun Nov 05, 2023 - 3:44PM
After tying for second place in the section during the regular season, Norwin Knights boys soccer received the eighth and final seed in the WPIAL Class 4A bracket. On Saturday night at Highmark Stadium, the Knights proved that regardless of the seed, they were the best team in the classification, as Norwin edged North Allegheny 2-1, prevailing in penalty kicks 5-3.
As a result, Norwin captured the WPIAL title for the first time in program history, while denying the second-seeded Tigers their 10th district crown.
Trailing 1-0 for the majority of the match, Norwin (15-5-1) netted the equalizer when Daniel Maddock headed in a corner kick from George Bunovich with approximately seven minutes left in regulation. From that point forward, the Knights had the better of the play, peppering NA goalkeeper Dante Accamando, who denied numerous quality chances.
With no winner decided after a pair of 15-minute overtime periods, the match went to the PK shootout, where Norwin’s goalkeeper shined. After the first two shooters for the Knights and Tigers traded goals, Maddock tallied for Norwin in the third round. With Nathan Katari shooting for North Allegheny (16-2-3), however, Norwin’s Anthony Scalise made a crucial save, giving the Knights the upper hand.
“Honestly, it was the biggest save of my life. It doesn’t feel like real life,” said Scalise, a senior committed to Penn State Behrend.
Chase Molinaro subsequently scored to make it 4-for-4 for Knights’ shooters, and George Bunovich ripped the decisive tally to clinch the win for Norwin. The victory in penalty kicks was the second of the postseason for Norwin, as the Knights stunned top-seeded Seneca Valley in the quarterfinals last weekend.
The opening half of play was dominated by the Tigers, as Luke Brady opened the scoring in the 12th minute, as his laser shot deflected off Scalise’s hand, under the crossbar and in. North Allegheny threatened for more, firing seven shots on frame, but Scalise stood tall after his lone blemish early.
Maddock’s goal was his team-leading 22nd of the season, and he amassed eight shots, which tied NA’s Zach Nash for the game high.
Scalise finished with eight saves, while Accamando registered 10, including seven during the two overtime stanzas.
Norwin captured the title without head coach Scott Schuchert, who was serving a suspension after receiving a pair of yellow cards during the win against Seneca Valley. In his absence, former Norwin standout Carter Breen was the acting coach, while Mike Powers, Dave Kozek, Matt Henry, and Schuchert’s wife, Caitlin, all contributed on the sidelines.
While Norwin showed that its talent was on par with any opponent in the WPIAL, the Knights also displayed a special characteristic that allowed them to become champions, despite the improbable path.
“Heart,” said Powers.
“This whole playoff run was crazy,” Scalise added. “To win in PKs against the one and two seeds – unheard of. To battle back like we did in three games, it speaks of our character, and gives us hope moving forward into the state championships.”
Both the Knights and Tigers enter the PIAA Class 4A postseason on Tuesday.