“We’re young, yet we’re really not that young,” Sandor said of her Norwalk girls soccer team. The Truckers have just two seniors — including one who did not play in 2018 — yet return 10 letterwinners from last season’s Lake Division champions of the Sandusky Bay Conference.
“We’ve got Quinn Jaworski’s leadership as a senior, someone who has played a lot of games for us,” Sandor said. “Grace (Albright) came back to us as a senior, but we also have a few freshmen out there … I think we’re figuring some things out a little bit.”
But Sandor also knows she has a roster with eight freshmen and five sophomores who aren’t exactly joining a program at ground zero. The Truckers were 13-3-1 last season, 13-5 in 2017 — and are the two-time defending SBC Lake Division champions.
In fact, Norwalk has not lost a Lake match, taking a 16-game win streak in league play entering tonight’s match at Sandusky.
“Our freshmen are learning really quickly with some good talent — but we're still making some young mistakes,” Sandor said. “Right now we're a team that can score on anyone — but also be scored on by anybody.
“We're very vulnerable right now I think, because we're still making some mistakes,” she added. “We still need to sort that out and clean some things up so that we can't be scored on by everybody.”
Offensively, Norwalk has a potent 1-2 scoring combination of sophomore Nyah Daniels and junior Gwen Olcott. Daniels was an All-SBC Lake first team selection as a freshman last season, and is already off to a torrid start through the first three matches — punctuated by five goals in a 7-1 win over Edison on Aug. 22.
Olcott was a second team all-league selection last season.
“Nyah’s quickiness is unmatched with the ball at her feet,” Sandor said. “I think we’re continuing to see her mature and improve right before our eyes.
“With her and Gwen up top, that combination allows us to attack from the right or left side of the field — and be confident in what we’re doing,” she added.
Sandor noted Jaworski’s presence as a midfielder. The senior was also second team in the all-league selections last fall.
"Quinn in the middle is just a solid player who reads the game so well,” Sandor said. “She starts our offense for us.”
Anchoring the defense is sophomore Lana Oglesby and juniors Kayla Cring and Elena Barber and Kara Mosser. Oglesby was also on the first team of the Lake team as a freshman in 2018.
“Lana is a great outside defender and in the middle is Kayla, Elena and Kara … just returning our back four from last year is great in itself,” Sandor said. “I don't like to sub out my defense if I don't have to. That's something really positive.”
Makaila White returns in net as the goalie after earning all-league honorable mention last season.
Sandor also mentioned freshmen Joscey Thomas and Summer Moehlman for stepping into the varsity lineup, along with classmates Mia Strong and Alina Bigler.
The coach also had high praise for junior Avery Dumbeck.
“We've got Avery at the left (midfielder), and she's grown, and is one I can count on to go in and win a ball and be in the right place at the right time,” Sandor said.
Juniors Celina Warner and Elise Zieber, sophomores Allie Steffanni and Alena Arndt, and freshmen Cara Mooney, Harmoni Segee, Hannah Steffanni and Eliz Castro round out the varsity roster.
Sandor said she’d like to believe her team is still the SBC Lake favorites, but knows Perkins among others will push the Truckers.
After visiting Sandusky tonight, Norwalk will play the rest of the Lake consecutively vs. Columbian (Aug. 28), vs. Clyde (Sept. 4) and at Perkins (Sept. 11).
"I would like to think we are (the favorites), but I don't know what others think,” she said. “We know Perkins will be a strong threat and it will be exciting to play them and see where we are at this year."
2019 season schedule
Aug. 17: at Oak Harbor, Lost, 7-3
Aug. 19: vs. Port Clinton, Won, 5-0
Aug. 21: vs. Edison, Won, 7-1
Aug. 26: at Sandusky, 7 p.m.
Aug. 28: vs. Columbian, 5 p.m.
Sept. 4: vs. Clyde, 5 p.m.
Sept. 11: at Perkins, 6 p.m.
Sept. 14: vs. Ontario, 12 p.m.
Sept. 16: vs. Sandusky, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18: at Columbian, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21: vs. Firelands, 12 p.m.
Sept. 23: at Clyde, 5 p.m.
Sept. 30: vs. Perkins, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3: at Vermilion, 5 p.m.
Oct. 8: at Mansfield Sr., 7 p.m.