DRYDEN, N.Y. — That the Poland Tornadoes are back in greater Cortland this weekend may not be a huge surprise. The Tornadoes, defending Class D champions of Section III and New York State, are sectional champions once again and ranked No. 1 in the state.
The trip back to the Final Four, however, has not been without its challenges.
Poland (18-2-0) pulled out a dramatic victory over one of its biggest rivals in Remsen at the start of October, knocked off a Class B team that had, to that point, been unbeaten in the championship match at its own annual Columbus Day Tournament, handed a Class AA opponent a sound beating at another tournament and shook off the loss of a two-goal lead to beat an undefeated and higher-seeded Copenhagen team in its sectional final.
Two 2-1 losses to Class C Sauquoit Valley, a sectional champion and Final Four team itself one year ago, are the only blemishes on the record of a Poland squad that has won 30 of its last 32 matches. The Tornadoes arrive at Tompkins-Cortland Community College Saturday with 13 consecutive victories, one more than the the streak that concluded with last season’s 3-2 overtime victory over Section X Chateaugay on championship Sunday at SUNY-Cortland.
Poland meets Section IX champion Eldred (10-7-1) in semifinal play Saturday at noon. Eldred earned its trip to Cortland by beating Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville of Section II 2-1 in regional play on a goal scored with 17 seconds left in regulation.
The other semifinal will be played at the same time at Cortland High School where Section V Jasper-Troupsburg (20-1-0) meets Section VII Chazy (16-2-1). Jasper-Troupsburg is a returning contender, having lost 2-1 to Poland at Homer High School in last year’s semifinals. Chazy defeated Chateaugay 3-1 in regional play.
Saturday’s winners head to the SUNY-Cortland campus Sunday to play for the state championship at 11 a.m.
Here is a game-by-game glance at the 2013 Tornadoes’ path to the Final Four:
SAUQUOIT VALLEY 2
Jenna Mazza scored two goals in the second half in the season-opening meeting of reigning sectional champions Sept. 9. Shiane Irwin scored late in the second half for Poland which was outshot 22-3.
OWEN D. YOUNG 1
Paige Sullivan and Mikayla Blumenstock each scored three goals Sept. 13 in the first win of the season for Poland.
Mikayla Blumenstock had three goals and Tara Seigle scored two for Poland Sept. 17.
Tara Seigle and Mikayla and Keara Blumenstock each scored two goals as the Tornadoes defeated Class AA Proctor in the opening round of tournament play in Hamilton Sept. 19.
The Tornadoes won the Hamilton Optimist Cup championship by shutting out the host school. Mikayla Blumenstock and Tara Seigle each scored a pair of goals Sept. 21.
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OLD FORGE 1
Mikayla Blumenstock had three goals and an assist Sept. 24 in a 7-1 win at Old Forge.
SAUQUOIT VALLEY 2
Abbey Mielnicki’s second goal broke a tie in the second half and Sauquoit Valley defeated Poland for the second time Sept. 26. Mikayla Blumenstock’s goal in the first half tied the score at 1.
Paige Sullivan had two goals and three assists at Herkimer County Community College Sept. 28 and Mikayla Blumenstock added two goals in a 7-0 win against McGraw.
REMSEN 2, overtime
Returning to the site of their last Class D loss 362 days earlier, the Tornadoes trailed 2-0 with less than five minutes left in regulation play Oct. 1. Mikayla Blumenstock and Paige Sullivan had goals one minute apart to tie the score and Blumenstock hit the winner with 73 seconds left in the second overtime period.
OWEN D. YOUNG 1
Mikayla Blumenstock had three goals and two assists and Paige Sullivan had two and two in Poland’s 9-1 win over Owen D. Young Oct. 3.
Shiane Irwin, Paige Sullivan and Mikayla and Keara Blumenstock each scored a goal Oct. 4 in the Tornadoes’ 4-2 win at Class B Vernon-Verona-Sherrill.
Tara Seigle scored three goals and Paige Sullivan had a goal and three assists in the Tornadoes’ 8-1 win against Oriskany Oct. 8.
Mikayla Blumenstock scored all three goals, two off Paige Sullivan assists in the Tornadoes’ 3-1 Oct. 10 win over Remsen.
Paige Sullivan had three goals and an assist and Mikayla Blumenstock had two and two as Poland blanked Hamilton 7-0 Oct. 12 in the first round of Columbus Day Tournament play.
Mikayla Blumenstock, the tournament’s most valuable player, scored both goals Oct. 13 as Poland beat Clinton, an undefeated Class B squad, 2-0 in the title match at the Tornadoes’ Columbus Day Tournament. Courtney Green made seven saves in the shutout.
OLD FORGE 0
Courtney Green made three saves Oct. 16 and Poland closed the regular season with its third straight shutout, a 6-0 win over Old Forge. Mikayla Blumenstock had three goals and an assist for her sixth hat trick of the season.
Poland defeated Oriskany 5-1 in the opening round of sectional play Oct. 24 on a milestone day for Mikayla Blumenstock. The first of Blumenstock’s four goals was the 100th of her varsity career and broke Nicole Hennings’ school record. The win was Poland’s third of the season against Oriskany.
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Mikayla Blumenstock scored all three goals at SUNY-Morrisville Oct. 30 and Poland’s goalkeepers were not called upon to make a single save in a 3-0 shutout of Cincinnatus, last year’s sectional runner-up.
Kara Morrison broke a 2-2 tie with her goal in the second half and Poland claimed a second straight sectional title with its 4-2 win over unbeaten Copenhagen Nov. 2 at SUNY-Cortland. Mikayla Blumenstock had given Poland a 2-0 lead with two goals 39 seconds apart in the first half.
Mikayla Blumenstock scored three goals and Tara Seigle had one Nov. 9 as Poland blanked Section IV Milford 4-0 in regional play at Norwich High School. Goalies Courtney Green and Claire Lepper combined to make three saves in the shutout.