By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
No, not Christmas. It’s playoff time.
The Fairmont Senior, East Fairmont and North Marion girls’ soccer teams will take to the field this week as the sectional soccer tournament kicks off Tuesday.
Fairmont Senior and North Marion will each have a bye for the first round and will play Thursday. East Fairmont will get into action Tuesday as it plays Braxton at 6 p.m. at East-West Stadium.
The winner of the East Fairmont-Braxton game will advance to play Fairmont Senior at 8 p.m. Thursday at East-West Stadium, while North will square off with the winner of the Trinity versus Tyler-Consolidated game at 6 p.m. the same day. The winner of those two matches will square off for the sectional title at 3 p.m. Saturday at East-West.
Fairmont Senior comes into the playoffs with a never-give-up attitude and will be tough to beat.
Senior Maddie Stevenski said her team has worked hard to earn the first-game break and vows that the Polar Bears will be ready for Thursday.
“We’re not going to give up. It’s not in our nature,” Stevenski said. “Our heart shows that we want it so bad that we’ll do whatever it takes.”
The “whatever it takes” Stevenski is referring to is the fact that the Lady Polar Bears have been a little banged up lately and have been playing through injuries, as most of the county teams have this fall.
Fairmont Senior’s squad is generally known for its offense, which boasts two of the best forwards in the state, but its defense is no joke either.
“As a unit we have become very close. We compliment each other and we have each other’s back,” Stevenski said. “We think of ourselves as the first set of offense. We have to make it easy for the other girls.”
North Marion, which also has a first-game bye, has shown moments of dominance this season as well.
Forward Madison Haught said her team has faced many battles this season, but has come out OK.
“We’ve had a great season,” Haught said. “This has been the best season that I’ve been here.”
Haught also believes the Huskies can make a solid playoff run and believes they can step up to the task at hand.
“I think we can go pretty far,” she said. “Our team has been challenged all season and we’ve handled it pretty well.”
To get to their destination, the Huskies will likely have to face Fairmont Senior, barring any tournament upsets. But Haught doesn’t see that as a problem, either.
“We can make it to regionals. I think this is our year to beat them,” Haught said, referring to the Polar Bears.
East Fairmont, who has been banged up all season, could be the tournament’s Cinderella team if they catch fire at the right time.
Forward Toree Ridgway and her squad are playing for pride and could upset a team or two in the tournament.
“It would be amazing,” Ridgway said of the chance of the Bees winning Tuesday. “We can beat the team we’re playing. That would really boost our confidence.”
Ridgway believes the Bees are playing with a lot of heart coming into Tuesday’s match and said they could even make a run themselves.
“It would mean the world to us,” Ridgway said of the team’s potential playoff run. “I can’t even describe how it would feel to win in the playoffs.”
Email Matt Welch at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.