NEWPORT, NY – The Poland Tornadoes started their 2017 girls’ soccer campaign by tacking nine goals on the South Lewis Falcons, in what was junior forward Keara Blumenstock’s return to the pitch after a severe knee injury.
Blumenstock followed that up with a hat trick on Thursday, much to the delight of Poland head coach Tom Basel.
“I think it’s just what the doctor ordered,” Basel said. “It bolstered her confidence today.”
Blumenstock, along with sophomore Riley Wisheart, managed to bolster the already-high morale of the Poland Tornadoes, scoring all of Poland’s goals in a 5-1 victory over West Canada Valley. With the win, Poland has defeated his first two opponents by a combined 14-1. However, Blumenstock chalked it up to business as usual.
“That’s just kind of how it’s been,” the junior said. “Our team doesn’t care about goals, we just care about playing together.”
Their togetherness was evident from the opening kickoff, as Poland’s solid defense was able to hold the Indians without a shot in the first five minutes of the game. That’s when Blumenstock went to work, taking a rebound off the crossbar and firing it into the net just eight minutes into the game. The junior would add another on a free kick, rocketing it past West Canada Valley goaltender Olivia Bolton to double the Poland lead just 12 minutes into the game.
For most of the rest of the first half, the Tornadoes began to play keep-away with the Indians, denying several long runs with their stout defense. At the same time, the Poland forwards continued to keep Bolton busy, peppering her with shots from everywhere.
Another opportunity came for the Tornadoes at the 26th minute of the first half, when a handball in the box gave Poland a penalty shot. Wisheart would come through this time for the Tornadoes, burying a ball in the top corner of the net to give Poland a 3-0 lead, just 14 minutes into the game. From there, the Indians would find some newfound confidence, making deep runs into Poland territory, but the stout Tornadoes defense would be up to the task yet again, sweeping away shots and depending on goaltenders Claire Lepper and Emily Schraeder to smother any other shots.
There was a very scary moment with about ten minutes left in the first half, as defender Mackensie Gokey and a West Canada Valley attacker both went for the ball. Gokey went down awkwardly, clutching her back and requiring the ambulance. Gokey would be taken away to the hospital, and her condition was not known at press time. However, that only served to inspire the Tornadoes even further, despite the half-hour delay and the sudden downpour that came over Newport once the ambulance went away.
“When she went down, we knew we had to do it for her and ourselves,” Blumenstock said of her teammate’s injury.
Do it they did, as the Tornadoes came out of the delay firing, playing keep-away for most of the rest of the half. Then, with about three minutes left, Wisheart would get on the scoresheet yet again, when a wildly bouncing ball would find the way to her feet, and then to the goal, giving the Tornadoes a 4-0 lead going into the halftime whistle.
Despite a big deficit, West Canada Valley head coach Amy Dommeral was not worried, rather, she spent most of the break trying to bolster the Indians’ spirits.
“We went in at halftime and told them we have to go into it like it’s a 0-0 ball game,” Dommeral said. “It was tough, but at the same time, it’s a learning tool.”
As the rain cleared and both teams came out to several rainbows across the sky, Poland did what they had done most of the first half: come out firing. However, the Indians were more than up to the task, solidifying their defense and keeping the Tornadoes out of the goal. Unfortunately for West Canada Valley, they couldn’t get anything going either, kept away from the goal by Lepper and Schraeder for most of the game.
Luckily for Basel and Dommeral, the lopsided score allowed them to see some future Tornadoes and Indians play, clearing their benches to give some of their bigger players a little bit of rest.
“We have a lot of good reserves,” Basel said. “We were able to get them off the bench and get some grooming for them.”
The Tornadoes would finish off their sheet with a starter, however, when Blumenstock rocketed a ball past Bolton into the low corner for a 5-0 lead. Combined with Wisheart’s two goals, Baasel was a very happy camper going into the last few minutes of the game, as the junior came off to a round of applause.
“They’re very dynamic players,” Basel said. “Keara’s got a strong left foot, Riley’s got a strong right foot.”
West Canada Valley would have one ray of sunshine as the sun went down over Newport. With the second string coming in, sophomore forward Bailey Martin managed to rocket one past Schraeder with just seven minutes remaining to end the scoring for the day at 5-1. For Dommeral, that was a big positive to carry into their next game on Saturday as they host a season-opening tournament.
“If you look at just the second half, it was 1-1,” Dommeral said. “I told the girls after the game, we need to take the positives out of today…we still have two games to get ready for this week. Some of our girls are just getting used to new positions…Poland’s just a powerhouse.”
For Basel, minus the goal allowed, there were many positives to apply to their next game, which is against Section V’s Allegany-Limestone Gators on Saturday.
“I thought we set the tone early on,” Basel said. “It affects everyone’s mentality when you get up multiple goals.”
Having a player who scores five goals in two games doesn’t hurt, either.
Poland Tornadoes 5, West Canada Valley Indians 1
Tornadoes 4 1 5
Indians 0 1 1
P- Keara Blumenstock (unassisted), 32:00
P- Blumenstock (unassisted), 28:44
P- Riley Wisheart (PK, unassisted), 25:58
P- Wisheart (unassisted), 3:15
P- Blumenstock (unassisted), 20:36
WCV- Bailey Martin (unassisted), 7:28
Records: Poland 2-0-0, West Canada Valley 1-1-0.