By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
It was a tough day for Fairmont Senior soccer as they took on Charleston Catholic at home at East-West Stadium Saturday.
The girls tied the Fighting Irish, 3-3, and the boys fell by a score of 2-1.
In the girls’ game, two top five teams were squaring off. Charleston Catholic came into the game ranked as the number one team in AA and the Polar Bears were ranked fourth.
“We were definitely excited to play them,” coach Ryann Moore said of the matchup. “We were hoping to have it on better terms but everyone stepped up and did their part.”
The game’s physicality lived up to the hype, as both teams saw girls come on and off the field because of injuries. Coming into the game, Fairmont Seniors’ two leading scorers were both hurt, but were able to play. Two of their other forwards, though, were out.
“Injuries have played a huge role in our last couple of games,” Moore said. “The seniors that are playing through injuries have a lot of heart to do that.”
Despite the adversity and being down 3-1 in the second half, the Lady Polar Bears were able to tie with the Irish, 3-3.
Gabi Mascaro got the Bears on the board first as she took a beautiful cross from Avery Towns and just barely slid it past Emily Holmes in the net with 24:37 remaining in the half.
Charleston Catholic would eventually come back and tie the game with just under eight minutes to go in the half.
The Irish were awarded a direct kick and Peyton Keener took the opportunity to drill a kick that was bounced around but finally put in by Peyton Muller for the tie.
Caroline Dundervill added a penalty kick just before the half and the Irish took a 2-1 lead into the break.
Coming out of the gate in the second half, Dundervill wasted no time extending her team’s lead as she netted her second goal of the day, bringing the score to 3-1.
This would be the make it or break it point for the Polar Bears, and they accepted the challenge.
Not long after, Mascaro drilled a corner kick into a scrum of players, but the ball finally found the foot of Megan Muller for the score, bringing the Polar Bears within one.
After the two teams battled back and forth through hard hits, penalties and offsides, Mascaro found Madison Henderson wide open and Henderson took the pass and scored, tying the game at three with 13:09 left in the game.
“They never quit, that’s for sure,” said Moore of her team’s determination in the second half.
The two teams held each other off, and gave the fans a preview of what they could see in the playoffs in a few weeks.
The tie was only the girls’ first of the season, and it keeps them to only two losses. The girls will play again Tuesday at home against Tyler Consolidated at 6 p.m.
On a brighter note, freshman Ashley Keefover scored the first goal of her high school career this past Thursday night against East Fairmont.
Coach Moore said that Ashley is a real team player and the team was very proud of her.
“Ashley has been a huge contribution to the team this year. The girls love her, and we love her. It was great to see her score,” Moore said.
Hopefully it was just one of many in a long and successful career for Keefover.
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In the boys’ game, Fairmont Senior wasn’t able to hold defending state champion Charleston Catholic late in the game and fell, 2-1.
The first half saw sound defense from both sides.
“They’re the defending state champs,” Fairmont Senior coach Jim DeNardi said. “We played with them pretty well.”
The Irish had a few chances, including a moment where they had an advantage but they were flagged for offsides. Just a few minutes later, Catholic’s Thad Jameson drilled one off the left goalpost.
Fairmont Senior’s defensive leader, Aaron Saymansky, went down early in the first half and it opened the defense up to a number of shots. But the Polar Bears’ goalie David Childers was able to save everything coming his way, en route to a 0-0 halftime score.
“Whenever we lose somebody we always have to shift some people around to fill a hole,” DeNardi said. “That hurts us. They came at us a little bit hard when that happens.”
In the second half, Anthony Cipollone scored the game’s first goal with just over 26 minutes left in the game to put the Fighting Irish on top, 1-0.
Dakota Mouser, though, would come right back and tie the game up with a swift kick to put it past the Irish’ goalkeeper.
“We seemed to give away goals that we shouldn’t have, but the boys hung in there and got the tying goal,” said DeNardi of Mouser’s score.
Much like the girls’ game, the two teams each had chances to take the lead, but it would go down to the wire.
With just 1:33 left on the game clock, Joey Trupo broke free for the Irish and put in the game-winning goal.
“It’s a tough one when you give up late goals like that,” DeNardi said. “That’s the second time this week we’ve done that. But we played well, I thought.”
The Polar Bears are back in action Tuesday on the road against University at 8 p.m.
Email Matt Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.