HOWLAND - In an All-American Conference, American Division, showdown, the Howland Tigers girls soccer team put on an offensive clinic agaisnt the Poland Bulldogs.
Using quickness from their forwards that put them behind the defense, the Tigers pounced on the Bulldogs for a 5-1 win at home, clinching a season sweep against the conference rivals.
"We like to spread the field," Howland coach Joe Megyesi said. "The speed with some of the individuals that I've got up there is good. They put (the opponents') defense on the defensive. If you have one-on-one, I'll always take my girls because they're pretty solid with foot skills and stuff."
The Tigers (11-2) jumped out to three-goal lead within the first 18 minutes and never looked back, thanks to a hat-trick from forward Jenna Dorchock.
Starting in the sixth minute, Dorchock put three shots past Poland (8-5) goalkeeper Jessica Rutana, all on through balls from fellow forwards Jenn Boyd and Jada Pagan. On the first two, Dorchock's job was simple, needing only to beat the Bulldog defender to the ball and slide it into the net.
Her third goal was a little more involved, as Rutana managed to save Dorchock's original shot, but the rebound went straight back to the shooter, who wouldn't miss twice from close range.
Dorchock was quick to credit her teammates in the play leading up to her goals, as both the central midfielders and attackers put her on net for the easy goals.
"It is a great feeling because scoring a hat trick is a fantastic thing in a competitive game," Dorchock said. 'I've got to give props to Jenn Boyd, our forward, who gave me two great through balls, and then Jada Pagan, who gave me another great through ball. Without that, I wouldn't have scored."
Despite taking a 3-1 lead into halftime, the Tigers didn't change their offensive philosophy in the second half.
Howland continued to use its quickness, with the central midfield turning defense to attack in the blink of eye. The attack created two more goals - a 20-yard strike from Jordan Entler in the 44th minute and another point-blank shot by Boyd in the 78th minute - to seal the win.
The way that the Tigers played impressed Poland coach John Cavalier, who said it was difficult to try and stop Howland's quick-strike capabilities.
"Howland's been a thorn in our sides for years," Cavalier said. "What Howland does, and what I'm trying to get our girls to do, is they really, really move without the ball. They're always moving to space, and that's a sign of a good team. We don't play at that intensity yet, and we need to get there."
With Howland finishing up All-American Conference play against Niles later this week and the regular season ending the following week, the Tigers are starting to turn their attention to the state tournament and a possible deep run in the playoffs.
"We're looking to win the tournament," Dorchock said. "We're working hard to prepare for it. We are really looking forward to the future."