NORWICH — Poland left no doubt which team was the defending Class D girls soccer state champion Saturday at Norwich High.
Sophomore Mikayla Blumenstock scored three times in leading Section Three champion Poland to a 4-0 rout of Milford in a Class D state quarterfinal.
“We’re very young,” said Milford coach Chris Saggese, whose Section Four and Tri-Valley League champion Wildcats looked like it for the first time this season. “I think it is fair to say we had some jitters. And it was the first time on turf for most of our girls. I think getting used to the turf took some time.
“I give Poland all the credit in the world,” he continued. “They’re the defending Class D champions and I think they lost very little from that team. They scored four goals on the No. 2 team in the state (Copenhagen). They’re the best Class D girls soccer team I’ve ever seen, hands down.”
The Tornadoes (17-2) limited Milford (18-2) to three shots on goal and held a 2-0 lead less than 18 minutes into the quarterfinal.
Other than a few minutes at the beginning of the game, a return trip to the final four for Poland seemed inevitable.
After Blumenstock’s second goal, Saggese urged his team to keep their heads up and start competing.
“Let’s just start playing soccer,” he said. “You haven’t even started playing soccer yet.”
Indeed, Milford appeared to be stunned by the first goal, which came with 24 minutes, 53 seconds left in the opening half. Sophomore keeper Rukiye Henderson got a foot and then two hands on the ball, then watched it dribble between her legs and inch over the goal line. The ball rolled so slowly that neither team reacted when the referees ruled it had crossed the line.
“I think we have a lot of prolific scorers here,” Poland coach Tom Basel said. “They didn’t want to take credit for a goal that way.”