After 11 days off, the Norwalk girls soccer team played strong in every phase of Saturday’s 6-0 win vs. Perkins in a Division II sectional championship match at the Norwalk Soccer Complex.
And it’s going to take an even better performance on Tuesday.
“We’re excited to get another opportunity,” Norwalk coach Michelle Sandor said. “Our district no matter who you face, it’s a tough team.”
With its seventh straight sectional title, Norwalk (13-4) has a tall task awaiting in Tuesday’s 7 p.m. district semifinal at Lexington. The Truckers face Mansfield Madison (17-1) — ranked No. 6 in the state coaches poll — which already has a 10-1 win over Norwalk on Aug. 21.
“The last time we played them, we weren’t half the team we are today,” Sandor said. “We have Coley (Branum) in the lineup now and our confidence is much higher. We’re playing a completely different game.
“We know Madison is a tough, elite team,” she added. “We’re going to give our best, and I think we can give them a much better run for their money than we did last time. I’m excited to see how we match up against them now.”
Saturday’s win had a formality feel to it. Norwalk had already shut out Perkins (5-9-3) twice by scores of 2-0 and 7-0 en route to the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake division title.
The shutout on Saturday was the 12th of Norwalk’s 13 victories this season.
Knowing his team was a bit overmatches, Perkins coach Steve Schuster employed a defensive approach.
But that didn’t work, either.
“We had a different game plan — and they defeated our different game plan,” Schuster said. “To show the greatness of Kaelyn Harkness, we man-marked her for 74 minutes — and she still scored three goals and had another one go off the post.
“So great girls who played a great game for a great coach — give them all the credit you can for tonight and this season,” he added. “It’s the third time we’ve faced them and we have the upmost respect for their program and how they play. Their girls played classy and they are very disciplined.”
In Saturday’s win, Harkness had a hat trick — and became the second player in program history to score 30 goals in a single season. Her 31 goals trails only Brooke Seitz’s 32 in 2006.
Maddie Deiderick, Michaela Rush and Joci Leto each scored once, with Jasmine Thomas and Branum each adding an assist. Norwalk scored three goals in each half.
“It was a good win for us, and I thought we played really well,” Sandor said. “It’s hard to beat a team three times, so I think we went out and just played a controlled and disciplined game and were able to get off enough good shots. We’ll take the victory and we’re excited to move on.”
Sandor noted the Truckers had to change their attack to counter the Perkins approach.
“We moved the ball around and attacked with different players,” she said. “We changed — obviously we still use Kaelyn and Kendall (Bigler) a lot — but we had to change and attack a little more from the midfield because they had six or seven on the defensive line and had two players on Kaelyn at all times.
“She was still able to get through on some, but it’s because we were able to attack from the midfield instead of just with our forwards,” Sandor added. “So I think it was just changing our point of attack a little bit.”