By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
For one team it’s about revenge. For the other, it’s unchartered territory. For both, it’s one common goal.
Fairmont Senior’s girls’ and East Fairmont’s boys’ soccer teams travel to Beckley this weekend for the state soccer tournament. Each team needs to win just two games to bring home a coveted state title.
Last season the Fairmont Senior girls’ team came up short against Bridgeport in the state title match, losing, 3-2.
“The girls’ goal last season was to win the state title,” coach Ryann Moore said. “It was the first time that group of girls had the chance to do that. They didn't quite get to finish it.”
But before they get the chance to play in that title game again this season, they’ll have to go through a familiar opponent.
Fairmont Senior finished the regular season with a 15-2-1 record. Of those two losses, one came at the hands of its next opponent, Sissonville.
“We're looking for revenge against Sissonville,” the coach said. “They beat us early in the season, so we’re looking to get that game back on them.”
Sissonville hasn’t lost all season.
Moore said her girls have been playing solid ever since the loss and they’ll continue to stay that way.
“We’ve been looking to play both sides of the ball better,” said Moore. “Early in the season we were down on defense and some teams scored more goals than we'd have liked. But we’re strengthening up both sides of the ball.”
The girls won’t be looking to change anything up as the competition continues to improve.
“We're going to keep playing our game. It's proven effective in the past 18 games,” Moore said.
The effectiveness that Moore speaks of encompasses the fact that her girls haven’t lost in their last 18 games including the regular and postseason.
If they pull off the win, there’s a chance that they’ll play Bridgeport, which they defeated earlier this season.
“There’s a lot of history there so that’s always a rivalry. They took our state title away from us last year,” Moore said. “We’re hungrier now than ever.”
As for the East Fairmont boys’ team, the Bees find themselves somewhere they haven’t been before.
“This is the first time we’ve been this far but it’s no different,” head coach Fred Roman said.
East Fairmont, which finished the regular season with a 12-4-3 record, is paired up with defending state champion, Charleston Catholic (11-3-3).
Roman, though, said that his boys decided early on in the season that they needed to prepare for something like this.
“The loss to Wheeling Park at the beginning of the season was a wake-up call,” Roman said. “Getting humbled by one of the better teams in the state made us realize we aren't going to walk to our goal.”
That goal was to win a state championship.
“We had a big team meeting after that and I asked them, ‘Are we going to be a team that just plays and has fun or are we going to work hard to achieve a goal?'” said the Bees’ head coach.
The result was finishing the season strong and battling every day.
Roman said he hasn’t had to motivate his players hardly at all and said that they know what’s at stake.
“We’ve kind of fallen short in sectionals in the past, but we’ve moved on from that,” he said. “They knew that if we’re going to get to Beckley that we’re going to have to work hard. Everyone pitches in on a team effort. I really haven’t had to motivate the guys. There’s no me in team, and they realize that they’re all a big part of the success.”
If the Bees dethrone Charleston Catholic, they’ll take on the winner between Pike View and Robert C. Byrd.
Both teams start their journey to a state title today, with the girls kicking off at 9:30 a.m. and the boys starting at 4:30 p.m.
Email Matt Welch at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.