Poland – Going into Sunday’s battle of state powers, it was obvious what both teams needed to do to win the title at Poland’s annual Columbus Day girls soccer tournament. The hosts needed to contain Central Valley Academy standout Reilly Rich and needed to find a way to get its scoring star, Riley Wisheart, open for shots against a stingy defense.
Wisheart had a hat trick and sophomore defender Amanda Sweet held Rich in check and it led the hosts to an unexpectedly big victory.
“If you had told me we’d win 4-0 before the game I would have laughed,” veteran Poland coach Tom Basel said after his No. 1 state-ranked Class D team beat CVA, a Class B team that was state ranked earlier this season. “I didn’t think we could keep Reilly Rich and Jazmyn Gillette off the board.”
Few teams have this fall as CVA was 10-2-1 entering the Sunday showdown. But Poland, now 13-0, has a rising star on defense in Sweet, a steady and smart sweeper in senior Jamie Weakley, and a superb supporting cast that has led to a lot of shutouts in 2018.
“I like marking up on someone,” Sweet said of her frequent assignment. “She (Rich) challenged me.”
Rich had an early shot as did Poland in the non-league game but neither goalie was challenged to make the save. Wisheart then scored a beautiful goal from a tough angle on the left side in the 12th minute. Fellow All-State player Leah Basel sent her the pass near midfield and Wisheart used her speed and skill to get open just enough to loft a 25-yard shot over CVA goalie Savannah Moore.
Rich had a number of chances in the next 25 minutes but either shot wide, was given little room by Sweet to hit the ball with power or stopped by Poland’s steady goalie Emily Schrader.
Poland’s Carliza Roark made a great move after getting open near the box and got around the charging Moore. Roark was taken down just inside the box, so she never had the chance to complete a breakaway goal. But Wisheart made the ensuing penalty kick and it stayed a 2-0 game until halftime.
Tayler Clark gave Poland even more breathing room in the sixth minute of the second half when she won the ball in a scramble and fired in a shot to the left side. Rich had a few chances for CVA in the next few minutes but Schraeder made a good save on one and Weakley blocked another shot that appeared headed inside the right post.
Alexis Bates assisted on Wisheart’s last goal, with just 18:02 left to play, to seal the outcome.
“I was really nervous before the game,” Wisheart said afterward. “(Many) of my best friends play for them (CVA). We play Coliseum (club soccer) together.” Those nerves were never evident once play began and the junior earned the MVP award for the tourney while Sweet won the MVP award for defenders.
“That was a hard one,” CVA coach Jonna Costin said afterward. “Poland’s a good team and well coached. We really wanted to play Poland, but today wasn’t our) day.”
Statistically it was to a point as Moore needed to make just three saves while Schrader had eight for the hosts. But the stat that counted most – goals – was definitely on Poland’s side.
“They finished better,” Costin said.