Truckers look to keep tournament train rolling

It truly is a "new" season for the Norwalk boys' soccer team.
Mike Greco
Oct 30, 2013

Three tournament wins and the Truckers are in the Division II regional tournament.

It is the first time in 16 years since Norwalk has reached the regional.

“A lot of the big boys have been knocked out,’’ Truckers coach Paul Lamb said. "What happened earlier in the year doesn’t matter. We’re now at a different level. We’re focused on anybody can come out as the winner.’’

Ironically, Bay — the team Norwalk is facing at 7 p.m. today — is the squad which knocked the Truckers out of the tournament in 1997 in the same spot.

“We remember it,’’ Lamb said. “They were a very strong team.’’

The Rockets have wins over Brookside 8-0, Parma Padua Franciscan 5-2 and Rocky River 2-0 to reach the regional tournament.

“Bay is one of the premier teams in Cleveland,’’ Lamb said. “They’ve been there before. They understand the pressure to get to this point.”

Bay reached the state championship match in 2009 and lost 1-0 to Columbus St. Francis DeSales.

Maumee is scheduled to play St. Marys Memorial at 7 p.m. today at Findlay in the other half of the bracket.

The regional final is slated for noon Saturday.

The Truckers had made it to the district final twice before under Lamb, but fell to Maumee in a PK shootout in 2006 and lost to Perrysburg 2-0 in 2011.

Lamb likes the makeup of this team, especially now.

“The guys are confident and the attitudes are right,’’ he said.

Senior Jimmy Wohlers said the team is playing well as a unit.

“Every day we come and give 110 percent,’’ he said. “We need to come out and play hard from the start and not give up.’’

The Truckers (12-5-2) have scored 65 goals, while yielding 18.

“In soccer, every player has to play offense,’’ Lamb said. “(Junior) Caden Foos and (sophomore) Devon Miller are leading the way on offense. They look for each other and aren’t afraid to take on the defense.
“We have a strong defensive minded team, led by (senior) Jacob (Hemenway), (junior) Avery (Albright), (senior) Alex (Keefer) and (junior) Colt (Holleran). They’re tenacious and aggressive.’’

And the last line of defense is senior goal keeper Wess Tanzillo, who has 11 shutouts in his first year as a starter.

“We’ve had years of having strong keepers,’’ Lamb said. “Wess is a natural athlete.’’

Tanzillo’s mettle was put to the test against Clear Fork in Saturday’s Division II district championship match at Clyde.

The Truckers and Colts ended regulation at 1-1.

Norwalk then made it through two overtime periods unscathed and came back from being down a goal in the penalty kick shootout to defeat Clear Fork in the second round of PKs.

“The nerves were getting to me,’’ Tanzillo said. “I’m the last line of defense. I watch their feet and eyes and you have to rely on your gut. Once you go one way, you have to stay with that and not change.’’

Lamb said the goal at the beginning of the season was to reach the regional.

They have reached that point, but are striving for more.

“Bay will play fast and be physical and  try to beat us down the middle,’’ he said. “We have to control the game, distribute the ball, have chemistry on the field and be physical with them.”