CORTLAND — The Copenhagen girls soccer team endured the severe winds and heavy rain of the past two days to prepare for the Section 3 Class D championship game, but ultimately were unable to withstand the Poland Tornadoes.
Senior Riley Wisheart scored four goals to carry top-seeded Poland to a 4-1 victory over No. 2 Copenhagen in a matchup of unbeaten teams in the Class D title game Friday night on the SUNY Cortland campus.
The sectional final was played in temperatures in the mid-to-high 30s throughout after high winds and flooding prompted a two-hour delay for Copenhagen’s school district earlier in the day, also causing some nearby districts to close schools and postpone games.
The Golden Knights, who reached the sectional final for the first time since the program captured the state championship in 2015, ended a memorable campaign with a 16-1-3 overall record.
“I think this went down as that one season, when I first saw these girls in the youth program and watched them grow,” Copenhagen coach Charity Smykla said. “I’ve called them my wolf pack for the last six years. They come to practice ready to learn. They’re coachable and they’re fun, and I think the run they had this year was not something that happened by chance, it happened by choice, because they all chose six years ago to commit to something and kind of see it through.”
Wisheart scored three goals within the first 26 minutes to give Poland an early edge en route to the program’s fourth straight sectional crown. The Tornadoes claimed their 39th straight victory dating back to last season, though they were bested by Cincinnatus on penalty kicks for a state playoff berth last fall.
Leah Basel added two assists for Poland, which improved to 20-0 entering next week’s state playoff quarterfinals.
“They’re a tough team,” said Copenhagen senior defender Chelsea Hancock, who was presented with the team’s sportsmanship award by Section 3 after the game. “They make really good passes, and they’re just a good team. I don’t know if they outplayed us but they were the better team tonight.”
Copenhagen’s Raegan Dalrymple scored an unassisted goal in the 65th minute to cut the Poland advantage to 3-1, tallying the first score against the Tornadoes this postseason.
Each team came into the finals after posting three consecutive shutouts during the Class D playoffs. Poland had outscored its previous three postseason foes by a combined 20-0, scoring at least six goals in each outing.
“It was tough for us to try to come from behind and score, we haven’t really been behind this season, so that was tough for my girls,” Charity Smykla said. “To keep (Poland) to one goal in the second half shows that my girls didn’t quit and shows that they were kind of struggling against us in the second half.”
Copenhagen advanced to the final by edging past third-seeded Fabius-Pompey on penalty kicks, 4-3, following a scoreless tie through regulation and four overtime periods late Wednesday night at Chittenango. The Golden Knights then battled harsh weather conditions to get a practice in Thursday after most players returned home from the semifinal game after 1 a.m. the previous night.
“It was a struggle for us (Thursday) night,” Charity Smykla said. “We found a field to play on, and so it was kind of a nice little gift for us to be able to sleep in (Friday) morning and then they got to school and moved around, so I think that (two-hour delay) actually benefitted us.”
The Golden Knights posted 11 shutouts this season and won their first Frontier League “D” Division title since 2014 after being eliminated in the sectional quarterfinals in 2018.
“We wanted to get one round past where we did last year and we ended up going two or three more rounds farther than we did last year, so we’re proud of that,” said junior Brooke Smykla, who was named Copenhagen’s Most Valuable Player by Section 3 afterward.
Hancock added: “It was a good way to end my career at Copenhagen for sure. I just couldn’t be more proud of the team really. ... We can’t hang our heads. We set goals at the beginning of the season and not only accomplished that but exceeded them, so we can’t really be too bummed.”