Homer, NY – There was a mild snowstorm the night before the first Class D girls soccer state semifinal.
There was a major Tornado when Saturday’s game began.
Carliza Roark scored in the fifth minute of play, added two more before halftime and chipped in with an assist in the second half as Poland dominated Moriah 6-0. The sophomore’s best outing of the year came at the best time for Coach Tom Basel’s team, and she had plenty of help as the midfield controlled play throughout and the defense was steady the few times Section VII’s champ broke through.
“A good start,” Basel said afterward. “We did well.”
Indeed. Poland (20-2) earned yet another trip to the state finals by outshooting the Vikings (12-5-1) by a six-to-one ratio. Roark’s early goal helped set the tone and one by Riley Wisheart in the 22nd minute kept the pressure on Moriah. Roark wrapped up her scoring with two goals in the final 5:48 of the half.
“I was really pumped up,” the sophomore said. “Before the game everybody was pumping me up. It just clicked.”
Poland was clicking from the start and took the lead on a play Keara Blumenstock started. The junior hit a direct kick that Moriah goalie Samantha Hayes got her hands on enough to make it deflect off the crossbar. Roark was there for the rebound and Hayes had no chance to stop the well-placed shot.
Juliette Baker responded a minute later with a shot on goal for Moriah. Poland’s standout senior goalie Claire Lepper made the save and momentum shifted back to the Section III champs for much of the rest of the half. Blumenstock, Jordyn Squire and Riley Wisheart had shots that were stopped by Hayes and Wisheart had another that Vikings defender Somer Scorsome deflected to save a sure goal.
There was no stopping Poland in the 22nd minute as eighth grader Alexis Bates fed Wisheart for a goal. Bates, an eighth grader called up from JV, had subbed in for Blumenstock after the junior collided with Hayes. She made the move pay off with a great pass that set up Wisheart’s perfect low shot.
Baker managed a shot on goal for Coach Christina Slattery’s team in the 31st minute to give Moriah a little more hope, but minutes later Roark scored off a great pass from Wisheart. The sophomore striker passed a ball from the middle to the left side where Roark managed to stay barely onside. She sprinted into position to score from 20 yards in the 35th minute. Sophomore midfielder Leah Basel dribbled through three defenders to set up Roark’s final goal of the game, one that came with 31 seconds left in the half.
“We settled down (quickly),” Coach Basel said of why his team started so well. “We executed well.”
The second half was similar to the first, even when Poland used its substitutes regularly. One of the best plays came from senior Olivia Clemons stopped a sure Moriah goal in the 76th minute. Madison Olcott struck a corner kick for Moriah and it was kicked around in the box. Eventually it was headed toward the goal, but Clemons headed it out to preserve the shutout.
Moriah’s other great chance came a few minutes earlier when Olcott’s shot went off the post.
“We were better than usual,” Leah Basel said of Poland’s play. “We used our skill.”
The Tornadoes had goals by Bates and Tayler Clark in the second half. Roark’s great run on the endline set up Bates for the eighth grader’s firsts varsity goal. Tayler Clark wrapped up the scoring with a good shot in the final minute.
Poland, last year’s state runner-up, plays the winner of the Wheatland-Chili vs. Eldred game. W-C is the team that beat Poland last year in the final.
Poland (20-2): Carliza Roark 3-1, Alexis Bates 1-1, Riley Wisheart 1-1, Leah Basel 0-1, Tayler Clark 1-0. Saves – Claire Lepper 3.
Moriah (12-5-1): Saves – Samantha Hayes 14.