Tomah High School boys soccer coach Scott Conzemius promised a culture change this year, and it’s yielding results.
The Timberwolves earned their third victory of the season Thursday by blanking La Crosse Aquinas 2-0 in a Mississippi Valley Conference contest at Veterans Park.
It took the Timberwolves 17 games to notch their third victory last season. This year, it took just six, and Conzemius said the 3-3 record represents an upgraded approach in 2018.
“It starts with the offseason,” Conzemius said. “The guys were determined not to repeat the last three years. The intensity has been much higher and much smarter.”
The Timberwolves dominated Aquinas, although they didn’t score until the 41st minute, when Dylan Richer converted a penalty kick.
Tomah’s second goal came less than three minutes into the second half, when Devin Gebhardt banged a shot off the post and Dylen Pierce knocked home the rebound.
Aquinas got several long passes into the attacking zone but never forced Tomah goalkeeper Nolan Stees to make a spectacular save. Tomah put 23 shots on goal compared to seven for Aquinas.
Two days earlier, Tomah lost a 2-1 MVC decision to Onalaska.
Tomah took a 1-0 lead in the 39th minute on a Pierce goal assisted by Tyler Torkelson. The lead held until the 74th minute, when Onalaska’s Jordan Groshek tied the match on a penalty kick. Eleven minutes later, he scored another penalty kick that decided the match.
“We had a good game plan in place, and for about 60 minutes it worked,” Conzemius said. “We are learning how to close out games and didn’t do well enough the last 30 minutes. We didn’t do enough offensively to take pressure off our back line.”
Stees finished with 11 saves.
“Defensively we did enough, and Nolan once again was solid in net, making several spectacular saves to keep us in the game,” Conzemius said.
The Timberwolves are dealing with an injury to Kyle Zebro, who was expected to lead the defense. Conzemius hopes Zebro can return to the lineup before the season ends.
The Timberwolves hit the road this week for contests at La Crosse Central (Tuesday) and La Crosse Logan (Thursday). They return home Tuesday, Sept. 18 for a home match against West Salem starting at 5 p.m. at Veterans Field.