FAIRMONT – You should never overestimate the importance of a strong senior class.
On Tuesday, East Fairmont boys’ and girls’ soccer honored 15 senior players that have made all the difference for the Bees.
It was senior night at East-West Stadium as both teams hosted Lewis County in a pair of offensive-driven games. During the opener, the two girls’ teams would battle to a 3-3 draw, while the East Fairmont boys’ would close the evening on a high note with a 5-2 victory.
On the girls’ side, it was a senior who set the tone of the evening early. Cheyenne Frederick, in her first game back on the pitch since returning from injury, would deliver a goal in the first minute of play to put her team up 1-0.
With emotions running high between the quick goal and the senior night atmosphere, the Bees would struggle to keep the momentum, and Lewis would reel off three consecutive goals in the next 40 minutes to take a 3-1 lead into the half.
“Emotions always run high on senior night, and we came out and scored the first goal and it was all emotion, and that all carried over into less focus. We made some mistakes, and they capitalized on it,” said Eric Wright, East Fairmont head coach.
At the half, Wright and his coaching staff didn’t feel the need to make many changes, but just tried to get the team’s attention back where it needed to be.
“Our coach always tells us that more focus wins games. We got over excited early and we lost focus. At halftime, it just took a lot of talking – we needed to communicate,” said Morgan Gaskill, senior defender.
The increase in concentration was quite evident in the final 40 minutes as the Bees’ would hold Lewis scoreless and rally to tie the game behind goals from Madison Lott and Makayla Comas. While the comeback attempt fell short of an outright win, it was a display of grit and determination that the senior class being honored has used to help rebuild the program over the past two seasons.
“This program has been built in what this group of seniors has done. They came in and committed last year and the turnaround we’ve had this year is because of them,” Wright said.
The boys’ got off to a similar start behind an early goal from senior Aiden Slusser. Unlike their female counterparts, however, they wouldn’t slow down. The Bees’ were aggressive offensively all night, adding a second goal before the half and an additional three in the final 40 minutes of pla. Both Slusser and junior Lance Cerullo would tally two goals on the night.
“I think we played well together. They gave us a little time in the midfield, and we have to speed up top with Lance and Aiden. If we can get it to them, there’s a good chance they can play through and put it in the net,” said senior Richard Rogers.
It was the fourth win in the last five games for the Bees after a mid-season slump that saw them go 2-1-2 after starting the season undefeated through six games.
“Halfway through the season we went through a slump, and we played a tough game somewhere in there that we tied and we snapped out of it. The momentum has kept rolling through in every game we have played so far, and we’re trying to use that to keep the team motivated,” said coach Jeff Merrifield.