Norwalk girls win first-ever league title

Mark Hazelwood • Updated Sep 28, 2017 at 12:37 PM

The Norwalk girls soccer team entered the season with high hopes.

But then the team lost all of its scrimmages and got blasted 10-1 by Mansfield Madison in the season opener, then soundly fell to Ashland (6-0) and were quickly 0-2.

“That really hurt and we felt hopeless,” senior Maddie Deiderick said. “We came into the season thinking we were going to be so great, and that just kind of blew us out of the water — but now we’re here.”

Here is at the top of the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake division following Wednesday’s 9-0 rout of visiting Clyde at the Norwalk Soccer Complex. Norwalk (10-2, 7-0) hasn’t lost since those first two matches of the season, and has turned a 10-game winning streak into the program’s first-ever league championship.

The girls soccer program started in the fall of 1999, but it wasn’t until 2014 that the Truckers could even play for a league title, as not enough Northern Ohio League schools fielded teams.

But in the five-team SBC Lake division, Norwalk has won all seven contests to clinch the title outright with one league match remaining next week.

“Ever since our freshman year this is a goal we’ve worked toward, and now we’re champs,” Deiderick said. “It’s been a really long road to get to this point and we’ve been working hard — so this definitely means a lot.”

In Wednesday’s win, Norwalk led 4-0 at halftime and added five goals in the second half. Coley Branum scored twice in the first half, and again with 20:38 left in the match for a hat trick.

Kaelyn Harkness scored her 22nd goal of the season in the first half, and Deiderick added the other first half goal. Harkness also assisted on three goals, as Quinn Jaworski scored with 25:02 left in the match to make it 5-0.

After Branum’s third goal, Mara Jaworski scored at the 0:05 mark for a 7-0 lead, while Diederick (14:22) and Kara Moser (6:13) closed out the scoring.

“It’s hard to put into words right now other than to say we’re excited, and it’s great for the girls and great for the school,” third-year coach Michelle Sandor said. “The season started kind of bumpy, so just them building their confidence each and every match as been really great to see.

“They’ve really developed as players this year, and they’ve earned it,” she added. “It was not easy work for them from where we started at the beginning of the season, but they put in the hard work and have come a long way.”

With 11 seniors on the roster, Sandor noted it’s positive to see a big class go out on top and make history — but also for some younger players to be around the winning culture they created.

“It’s really been great to see them develop each year, and for this to be the culmination of what they’ve done,” she said. “They put the time in during the offseason and it’s nice to see that pay off for them. It’s going to be quite a change next year, we have a lot of young players coming up — but obviously graduate 11.

“That’s going to be tough to replace, so it makes watching this even better,” Sandor added. “It’s so fun to watch this group play. And we’re not just scoring off of Kaelyn now, we’re scoring from players all over the field so we can be a more dangerous team.”

Perhaps most impressive during the 10-game streak has been the overall scoring, as Norwalk has outscored opponents by a 61-1 margin of victory. But Sandor knows a true test awaits on Saturday at Lexington (6-3-1), followed by an Oct. 5 home match vs. Clear Fork (7-3).

“I didn’t even realize or had thought that through,” Sandor said of the scoring difference. “But they’re dominating right now. We’ve got a lot of season left with some big teams coming up, including Lexington. That will really be a test for us. We’ll have to show up and give our best.”

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