HOMER, N.Y. — Carliza Roark didn’t let the excitement of finally becoming part of Poland girls soccer history overwhelm her.
The sophomore striker scored three goals and assisted on another Saturday while leading Poland’s Tornadoes back to the state championship game with a 6-0 victory over Moriah in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Class D semifinals at Homer High School.
"Seeing everybody before me going to states, then being a part of the team and actually helping go. ... And hopefully bring home a state title ... is amazing," said Roark, who now has 15 goals and eight assists after playing junior varsity last season.
The Tornadoes, 20-2-0 and ranked No. 3 in the state, now play defending Class D state champion Wheatland-Chili at 10 a.m. Sunday back at Homer High School. The Section V Wildcats (20-1-1) shut out Eldred 4-0 in Saturday's second semifinal.
Wheatland-Chili defeated Poland 2-0 in last year’s final. The Wildcats are the state’s top-ranked Class D team. Coach Gary Ward’s 502 victories rank second all-time in the state behind current Addison coach Kay Peters’ 506 victories.
Poland has reached state championship game in all six of its final four appearances, and this will be the fifth time in six years the Tornadoes — who won it all in 2012 — have played in the title game.
"Winning the ball and establishing possession is key," said Poland coach Tom Basel. "Once we were able to settle down ... 15-20 minutes into the first half we started running around, getting (Moriah) a little bit tired, and it became more apparent in the second half."
Alexis Bates, an eighth-grader who moved up from the junior varsity for the postseason, netted her first varsity goal and added an assist. Riley Wisheart scored once and helped on another. Tayler Clark scored the other Poland goal and Leah Basel added an assist.
Senior Claire Lepper and sophomore Emily Schraeder each made two saves as Poland recorded its 17th shutout of the season.
Samantha Hayes stopped 12 shots for Moriah’s state-ranked No. 8 Vikings (12-5-1), who were making their first appearance in the state final four.
"That’s an accomplishment in itself for these girls," Moriah second-year coach Christina Slattery said.
Before the contest, Homer’s field crew cleared inches of snow from the pitch in 20-degreee weather.
The clear field gave Roark plenty of room to work, and she scored her first goal in the fourth minute. Keara Blumenstock’s free kick was deflected off of Hayes’ hands, bouncing off the left post and into Roark’s reach for an easy goal.
Bates made an immediate impact with her footwork when she entered the game, feeding Wisheart on her team-high 35th goal of the season in the 21st minute. Wisheart and Basel fed Roark in the 34th and 39th minute as Poland’s lead grew to 4-0.
Roark fed Bates in the 58th minute. Clark, a midfielder who played defense most of the game to counter Moriah’s three strikers, scored from beyond 20 yards out for Poland’s sixth goal.
"She did extremely well in that role today for us," Basel said of Clark.
Senior Olivia Clemons cleared out a would-be Moriah goal on a corner kick in the 76th minute to help complete the shutout.
Blumenstock kept the defense honest with aggressive play and long shot attempts as she controlled the midfield.
The Tornadoes enter the state championship game on a nine-game winning streak, outscoring opponents 45-1 in that span – the lone goal was an own goal. For the season, Poland has outscored opponents 116-7.