FAIRMONT — It might have taken a little longer than expected, but the Fairmont Senior Polar Bears are returning to the West Virginia Scholastic Lacrosse Association Girls Championship after defeating the Morgantown Mohigans 9-to-3 in a semifinal game that had to be played on Friday after being rained out of its original set date of Thursday.
Aubrey Harrison led the Polar Bears in scoring Friday, shooting three times and converting three times to pace what was a balanced Fairmont Senior offense. Madison Jones put in two goals of her own, while Morgan Rogers, Chloe Travelstead, Karter King, and Bella Bock also collected goals.
Much of the contest was a slowed-down affair, the field still being waterlogged from the same persistent rain that had caused the game’s delay the day previous. Rain continued to fall for much of the first half, with the typically aggressive Fairmont Senior finding themselves on the defensive more than usual.
“We started slow, and Morgantown, they played tough,” Head Coach Jon Cain said. “We knew it was going to be a battle. Our goal was to keep ahead by half. If we could make our adjustments at halftime I thought we’d be OK.”
Cain’s goal was met, as the Polar Bears led 4-to-2 at the half despite Morgantown winning the time of possession in the first 25. From there, Aubrey Harrison opened up the second half scoring with a penalty shot at the 22:59 mark before Morgantown had a chance to seize the momentum of the game.
The Mohigans locked down Fairmont Senior for over four continuous minutes, then found themselves in a man-up situation immediately after- but were unable to close the gap. Although a Rachel Dennis goal did eventually bring the score to 6-to-3, that would prove to be the last burst of offense for Morgantown until the clock hit zeroes.
“Our defense played lights-out again,” Cain said after the game. “Three goals — our defense is what is keeping us in some games, especially these last few. We’re proud of what they accomplished, they’ve done everything they could to keep us ahead. Sid [Apanowicz] in the goal was lights-out today.”
Fairmont Senior continued to grow their lead as Morgantown found themselves permanently down a player after two yellow cards at the 6:49 mark of the second half, and then down another at 1:38. With the win, the Polar Bears have a moment to reflect on the season behind them before looking to the championship game ahead.
“We put this team through a gauntlet here at the end,” Cain said, noting that his squad has played Morgantown and University, the teams they had faced in the first two rounds of the tournament, twice each in the regular season, and had played the George Washington Patriots — who they will face on Saturday in the championship — once before as well.
The 14-0 Polar Bears will play in Morgantown on Saturday at 4 p.m. where they will play the Patriots in what will be a rematch of the 2019 WVSLA title game, in which Fairmont Senior prevailed.
“We’re excited, we’re going up and trying to defend the championship,” Bartic said. “COVID knocked us out last year and there was no season at all, but we took 2019 and now we have the chance to defend that.”