New faces lead Norwin soccer



The 2022 Norwin Girls Soccer team

The girls soccer team has been one of the most successful teams at Norwin for as long as most can remember. New coach Diane Metzger is no stranger to this success, as she was a member of the Lady Knights PIAA championship team in 1996. Metzger cites the experience she had as a Norwin soccer player as the influence for many aspects of her coaching style.
“I have learned how I responded best to my coaches throughout my playing years, and try to offer that same type of positive, specific feedback to my players,” Metzger said. “Players generally are very aware of the mistakes that they have made and there is often too much negativity that does not help players to thrive. I try to affirm the positive plays that they make, and also correct the mistakes that they are unable to correct themselves. I feel that the girls on this team have been very receptive to this open dialogue.”
The Lady Knights won another PIAA championship in 2018, and this is the first year the team returns no members from the championship squad. The 2021 graduating class was one of the strongest the Lady Knights had ever had, which had many college commits, including Katelyn Kauffman and Lacey Bernick (University of Pittsburgh), Anna Durmis (William and Mary College), Morgan Sigut (Long Island University), Sydney Willig (Geneva College), Kennedy Soliday (Virginia Wesleyan University), and Madison Rose (Davis and Elkins College).
Regardless of the amount of lost talent, Coach Metzger doesn’t care about the past.
“Many people doubted this year’s team could be as good,” said Metzger. “This season, they have already surprised so many with their ability. This team is full of talent and I believe that we are just beginning to see them come together and develop good chemistry on the field. I know they will only continue to improve.”
Luckily, the Knights return plenty of talented players, including senior forward Paloma Swankler, a four year starter who was named a WPIAL preseason player to watch. Swankler is committed to Robert Morris University. They also return first team all Section selection Reese Aquilio (12), who is committed to Clarion University; along with Emma Rigone (12), who is committed to Youngstown State; Jenna McGuiness (12), who is committed to Seton Hill University; Natalie Barkley (12), Molly Hudson (12), Alyssa Shields (12), Riley Morningstar (12), Alyssa Aquilio (11), Ella Kauffman (11), Ashley Ornowski (11), Zaria Moffatt (11), and Faith Steen (11). Freshman Julia Bersick has made an early impact as well.
The team suffered its only loss of the season to Greater Latrobe 2-1 on Sept. 14. This was the first loss to Greater Latrobe in almost 20 years, as injuries took out some of the Lady Knight’s best players both before and during the game. This loss, although disappointing, has served as one of the best lessons for this year’s team.
“We can’t take anything for granted,” said Metzger. “No one knows when an injury may occur. It could be short-term or season-ending. When that happens, others have to step up and do more for the team in those situations.”
The Lady Knights immediately bounced back when they beat Fox Chapel, one of the top teams in the WPIAL, 1-0 on Sept. 17. The one goal was scored by Swankler and assisted by Bersick in overtime. The following week, the team beat Hempfield, Allderdice and Penn Trafford.
Despite the strong start, the team is still hungry to improve.
“This team is talented and has good depth,” said Metzger. “They have a desire to improve and want to reach the goals that they have set for themselves. They are working on becoming more consistent in both practices and games.”
The Lady Knights will look to make a splash in the WPIAL playoffs and will continue to work hard and learn valuable lessons both on and off the field.
“Everyone has to work for their spot each and every day,” Metzger said. “I think that this is a valuable lesson for the team, and also for life. Hopefully, the girls playing this season will develop a desire to always push themselves to be the very best that they can be at whatever it is they are doing. One day, long after high school graduation, I hope that these young ladies will be driven, motivated, caring, and hard-working leaders at home and at their jobs.”