DRYDEN, N.Y. — The Poland Tornadoes will be back on the field Sunday to defend their NYSPHSAA Class D championship after beating Eldred 4-0 in semifinal play Saturday afternoon at Tompkins-Cortland Community College.
The top-ranked Tornadoes (19-2-0), champions of Section III, meet Section V Jasper-Troupsburg (21-1-0) at 11 a.m. Sunday on the white field at SUNY-Cortland. Jasper-Troupsburg defeated Chazy of Section VII 2-0 in Saturday’s other semifinal.
“They’re definitely a tough team,” senior captain Paige Sullivan said of Jasper-Troupsburg. “We played them last year and win 2-1 in the semifinals. We’re going to have to come out and play well.”
For her part, Sullivan played very well Saturday. The midfielder netted a hat trick against Section IX Eldred, scoring three goals in a match for the third time this season and raising her total to 22. Sullivan had the first two goals for Poland which led 3-0 at halftime and dominated the match, outshooting the Yellowjackets 31-1. The Tornadoes put 16 shots on goal during the match; Eldred’s only shot was a direct kick in the opening five minutes that sailed wide of the left post.
Sullivan opened the scoring in the ninth minute with a shot from inside the arc at the top of the box. Mikayla Blumenstock dropped a pass for Sullivan who ripped her waist-high shot inside the left post.
“At the start we were just kicking the ball around,” said senior Tara Seigle who scored two-goals, including the winner in overtime, in last year’s championship match against Section X Chateaugay. “Once we got a goal, we started playing our possession game and we just kept going from there.”
“The first one that goes in, you can always tell the momentum shifts in our favor,” senior midfielder Alyssa Lepper added. “Then we just keep scoring.”
The Tornadoes have now won 14 matches in a row, all but one by at least two goals. They have outscored their opponents 20-3 in five postseason matches between sectionals and the state playoffs.
“One goal is not a sigh of relief,” Lepper said. “They can always get one back. You can’t let down.”
Three minutes later, the same shot presented itself to Sullivan. The initial shot was blocked, as was a second by Sullivan who again gained control of the ball and sent another shot to the left post for her second goal.
Blumenstock added her 45th goal of the season with 7:55 left in the first half. The sophomore got between three defenders and beat them into the box where she buried a shot in the net. Blumenstock, Poland’s career goal-scoring leader, has at least one goal in 20 consecutive matches.
Sitting on a 3-0 lead and having outshot Eldred 21-1 in the first half, Poland was able to substitute liberally in the second half. Claire Lepper replaced starter Courtney Green in goal and finished the combined save-free shutout. Sullivan completed her hat trick with a goal off a rebound 3:19 into the period.
Page 2 of 2 - Jenna Burns made 12 saves for Eldred (10-8-1).