By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
It would be fair to call the Huskies underdogs in Tuesday’s playoff game against East Fairmont at East-West Stadium.
After all, North Marion had won just a handful of games this season, while East Fairmont has dismantled several opponents by significant margins, including an 8-0 victory over the Huskies earlier in the season.
So when Bryce McKinney scored for the Huskies in the 22nd minute, you wouldn’t have faulted East Fairmont coach Fred Roman for getting a little worried. Perhaps an upset was brewing.
But Roman thought no such thing.
“I didn’t panic,” he said. “I knew we were playing too well to let that happen.”
It turned out his calm demeanor was justified. East Fairmont stormed back from the one-goal deficit and scored the final four goals en route to a 4-1 victory over the Huskies.
The Bees advance to face Fairmont Senior at 5 p.m. Saturday at East-West Stadium.
Colin Harvath scored two goals and assisted on a third for the Bees.
“Colin’s performance is what we’ve come to love out of him,” Roman said.
James Bolander and Connor Fitz also netted goals for the Bees. But Roman said his player of the game was defensive captain Jason Mills.
“My game ball went to Jason Mills,” he said. “Defensively, he was very sound. He closed in on a lot of balls. And his attitude was very calming to my boys.”
That calm attitude was something the East Fairmont team struggled with a bit to start the game. Harvath admitted that the Bees were nervous for the playoff game.
Harvath’s equalizer just two and a half minutes before the half surely calmed those nerves a bit. If it didn’t, Roman’s halftime talk did.
“I think we were a little nervous,” Harvath said. “Coach Roman took us into the locker room and told us to step up our game.”
The goal also changed the strategy for North Marion. The Huskies had planned to go to a completely defensive scheme to try to preserve the 1-0 lead. But Harvath’s goal foiled that plan.
“Going into the half 1-1 our guys were upbeat, but had it been 1-0 it would have been a completely different game,” North Marion coach Matt Gilpin said. “I think (East Fairmont) was kind of flustered. I think that gave them a little more confidence.”
If the first goal didn’t, Harvath’s second goal surely provided the confidence boost the Bees needed. He netted his second goal of the game in the 47th minute to give the Bees their first lead of the game.
Minutes later he was awarded a free kick just outside the box. He crossed the ball to Bolander, who deflected it in and prompted one fan to blurt out the SportsCenter theme song.
Fitz added the fourth goal on a shot from 25 yards out that skimmed the top crossbar before tickling the twine in the back of the net.
Despite the loss, Gilpin said the way his team fought showed the improvements that the team has made this season.
"They came a long way," he said. "The seniors really stepped up. Angelo (Bombardiere)'s turned into a great goalie. I feel like if he would have played for more years, he could be college goalie. And Dylan Leary has consistently been one of best players on the field.”
The Bees meanwhile aren’t in the reflecting stage just yet. In fact, they’ve already moved on to their next game on Saturday.
Asked after the game how long they would enjoy the victory, Harvath responded: “There's nothing to enjoy. We have to focus and realize we have another opponent to go through to get to states.”
Email Mike DeFabo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.