PLEASANT VALLEY — Objects are hardest at the core.
It’s an old adage that scientists discuss when examining rocks, among other items.
The same could be said about the East Fairmont boys’ soccer team. Up the middle, at the team’s core, is where you’ll find the building blocks to success.
Coming off a season that ended in bitter 1-0 defeat to Pikeview in the state championship game, the Bees are searching for ways not only to get back to the title game, but to win it all in 2014.
Mark Harvath steps into the head coaching role this season after previously coaching the girls’ team a year ago. Despite losing some talent off last year’s squad, Harvath is exciting about several players that extend an entire area of the pitch.
“We’re going to rely on the the guys up the spine a lot this year,” Harvath said. “They are the most veteran up through there with a lot of talent going toward the goal.”
The spine comes in reference to the line of players in the middle of the field. In East Fairmont’s case, that starts with center defender Jake Bolander and continues on into the midfield and up top with star players Colin Harvath, the son of Coach Harvath, and Levi Perkins.
Harvath, the team leader in goals (27) and assists (24), is just about the finest soccer player in the county and one of the best in the state. Playing travel ball during the offseason, Harvath has gotten enough attention to make playing at the next level a real possibility.
The junior attacking midfielder has handled the stresses of being a coach’s son well. He blends in well with his East Fairmont teammates during practice.
Harvath’s partner in crime is senior forward Levi Perkins. The returning all-state selection uses his size and skill to dominate opposing defenses.
“He’s just a great athlete,” Coach Harvath said. “He’s big and athletic and really powerful. He really uses it out on the field.”
With many newcomers being knitted into the successful fabric that East has built in the last few seasons, it’s no surprise that Harvath and Perkins have worked at creating a effective working relationship.
“We’re able to almost read each other’s minds now,” Perkins said. “We don’t need to take that extra second to think, so it’ll end up with some faster play.”
The success in the final third of the field is perhaps appreciated no more more than by Bolander. The junior will be anchoring the back line of defense for the Bees this season after the team lost multiple players, including a goalkeeper, to graduation after last season.
“(Colin and Levi) aren’t afraid to take on shots, which really helps our offense,” Bolander explained. “It gives the defense a little bit of relaxation.”
These three impact players didn’t just arrive overnight. Colin Harvath says that the Bees routinely form get-togethers in the offseason that result in a breakout in a full-fledged pick-up game.
Colin Harvath, as well as the rest of the returning East players, is excited to get back on the field in preparation of the new season. He says that outsiders should expect a different look from the Bees.
“I think we’re going to be able to play a lot more soccer this year,” he said. “Last year we were kind of more of a physical presence.”
The goal is simple for the Bolander, Harvath, Perkins and the rest of the East Fairmont boys’ squad. Simply put, get back to Beckley. The lasting memory of last season’s loss has almost haunted several players to point where added pressure is being used as motivation.
“(Last year’s championship game) is a constant reminder in the back of my head,” Perkins admitted. “If I don’t make a pass, I think, ‘What if I was in the (state championship) game.’ I have memories of it and want it back again. Hopefully, we’ll make it there again.”
Coach Harvath says he fully intents to use the services of his three players up the spine in his tactics this season. Attacking from the inside-out will likely bring a bundle of problems to the opposition, even without the fact that multiple all-staters will be leading the charge.
With a strong unit that stretches from the back line of defense to up top with a powerful forward, not to mention an attacking midfielder that is turning heads, look for East Fairmont to once again be a state power in 2014.