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The Times
  • School, community show their support for Lady Tornadoes

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  • Shortly before the bus departed with the Poland varsity girls’ soccer team Friday morning, Elizabeth Lepper got a high-five from her daughter, Alyssa, through the bus window.
    “I’m nervous, excited,” said Lepper as the bus was leaving.
    She also described the event as “emotional” since Alyssa is a senior this year. Her daughter, Claire, an eighth-grader, also plays on the team as their goalkeeper.
    “I know they will do well,” she said.
    Then as the bus pulled away from Poland Central School, sirens blared from a fire truck escort to send the Lady Tornadoes off to a state final four game at Tompkins-Cortland Community College in Cortland. Students, teachers, parents and community members showed their support with signs and cheers as they left.
    This is the second year in a row the Lady Tornadoes have made the state final four. The team will play Eldred at noon Saturday in a state semi-final game. Whichever team advances, will play at 11 a.m. Sunday in the state final at Cortland State.
    “A lot of it is the culture and the community,” said coach Tom Basel, about the team’s success. “… There’s a lot of spirit and everybody rallies behind them. These girls are a product of that culture and commitment.”
    The community support was evident throughout Poland, with signs that read “Poland Pride” and “Go Lady Tornadoes.” Signs in the shape of a soccer ball, painted blue and orange, are posted throughout the village with the name of each player and their number.
    Basel said the girls traveled a “long road” to get to this point, starting with summer league games and continuing throughout the fall.
    “The excitement is palpable,” he said shortly before the start of a rally at the school. The rally included a mock tornado warning, and the school mascot - a tornado - leading the team through the hallways as classmates dressed in blue and orange cheered them on.
    “We’re very excited for them,” said Leslie Irwin, whose daughter, Shiane, is also on the team. “They’re pumped. They’re continuing the legacy.”

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