When East Fairmont’s boys’ soccer team played at Jefferson back on Aug. 25, it marked the Bees’ second match of the season.

Jim Pearcy’s squad was still searching for its winning remedy and lost by a 5-2 decision.

“It was one of our first games and, of course, anytime you’re a growing team in a growing area, I guess, you have to take what you can get,” the coach said. “But we take so long, like halfway through the season, to get warmed up as a team.”

Just over a month later, the Bees showed how far they had come since that defeat.

East returned the favor to No. 13 Jefferson, racing out to a three-goal lead en route to a 4-1 upset win over last year’s state semifinalist Saturday afternoon at East-West Stadium.

The difference between the two matches was like night and day.

“We’ve been working hard in practice. We’ve come together as a team and play more like a team,” junior midfielder Nolan Harvath said. “Before, it was just individuals. Now we’re always looking for each other because we trust each other’s abilities.”

And it was East’s defense that really set the tone from the opening whistle.

The back line starting unit of Nick Toothman, Kyle Posey, Nick Bonnett and Dustin Starsick, including goalkeeper Garrett Saiko, limited Jefferson to only seven shots on goal.

“It’s just one of those things where the defense is starting to click,” Pearcy said.

Saiko had a shutout going into the second half until Jefferson’s Luciano Reyes shot the ball high and away from him to keep the Cougars from being blanked.

However, East already staked out a 3-0 first-half advantage prior to that goal.

“Our defense is playing incredible right now,” Harvath said. “We only gave up two late goals to Morgantown, the No. 2 team in the state. I mean, that’s pretty good if you ask me. Then to give up only one today against another top team in the state, we’ve turned it around.”

After more than 20 minutes of scoreless soccer, Nate Hickman hit Vince Roman with a one-touch pass to put him one-on-one with Jefferson’s keeper.

And that’s a battle Roman wins more times than not. As the keeper charged out from the goal, Roman softly shot the ball with his left foot for an easy goal and 1-0 lead.

Ten minutes later, Roman struck again on a long assist from Kyle Posey.

Just before halftime, Hickman registered his second assist to Harvath, who made a couple of moves on his way to a point-blank shot and goal with 9.7 seconds left in the first half.

The Bees’ final goal came with 6:29 remaining in the match when Roman took a pass from Harvath down the right sideline. Roman then crossed the ball into the box, where junior Cory Murphey cashed in with a sliding shot for East’s fourth goal.

“Murph was in the right place at the right time, which is something we’ve been working on,” Pearcy said. “We’ve been trying to get him to go near post on his far side to make sure he’s making the run, and he did it.

“With Vinny’s nice cross right along the goal line, it was just awesome. That’s encouraging.”

East improved to 7-6-1 overall.

“We really don’t worry about rankings. We see the team and say to ourselves, ‘We can take these guys,’” Harvath said. “That Morgantown game just pumped us up and let us know that we can play with anybody in the state. We took that into today and played a great game.”

Following the boys’ match, East’s girls’ soccer team (1-15) lost to Jefferson’s fourth-rated squad, 5-1.

Taylor Michael scored the Bees’ only goal on a penalty kick.

E-mail Andrew Manzo at dmanzo@timeswv.com.

Recommended for you