It all comes down to this.
The Marion County boys’ soccer teams are ready for a week’s worth of hard-fought games in hopes that their team will be crowned the sectional champion.
East Fairmont and North Marion will get things started with a game at 8 p.m. today at East-West Stadium. The winner will go on to play Fairmont Senior in the sectional championship at 5 p.m. Saturday at East-West.
To get to the top of the plateau, these teams will have to overcome teams they know very well.
There are only three teams in the section for the boys, and all three teams are within the county. East and North will have a tougher road, while Fairmont Senior will need to win just one game to take home a title and advance.
Fairmont Senior, which finished the season with an 8-7-3 record, was able to pull out an opening-round bye after defeating East Fairmont in the regular season, 1-0, and is ranked 13th in the state. Sam Tonkovich and his team will use the bye week to get some much needed rest.
“It gives us time to heal and get some much needed rest,” Tonkovich said.
Midfielder Justin Anselene said that even though the Polar Bears have the first game off, it’ll still be a hard battle Saturday.
“We’ll still be playing a tough game no matter what,” he said. “Getting the win over East was just in the regular season. It’ll be different.”
But Anselene knows that getting past either team isn’t always guaranteed.
“It could go either way,” said Anselene. “We’re pretty much going to play the same way we have been. We have some guys who have been hurt who will be coming back, so we might have a leg up.”
East Fairmont, which boasts a No. 3 ranking in the state and a 12-4 record, will have to overcome two teams en route to a championship.
Forward Colin Harvath believes his team has been riding high all season.
“We have a lot of momentum,” Harvath said. “We’re doing pretty well this season.”
Harvath likes the fact that the Bees get to prove themselves against county opponents, but says the team’s ultimate goal is to take down the Polar Bears.
“We’ve been in the shadows of Fairmont Senior and we think this is the year that we finally beat them,” he said. “We’re just going to keep playing the same game and work hard.”
North Marion hasn’t had an easy road all season and has won just two games until this point. But any team can make a statement in the playoffs if they get hot at the right time.
Goalkeeper Angelo Bombardiere says the team just needs to fine-tune some things and they’ll be good to go.
“There’s a lot more pressure (in the playoffs),” Bombardiere said. “I have to be more of a leader out there and help our team get the ‘W’.”
Of playing county opponents, Bombardiere and the Huskies are ready for the challenge.
“It gives us an advantage because we know what they’re going to do, but they know us, too,” he said. “It has its advantages and disadvantages.”
Email Matt Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.
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