Soccer

East Fairmont’s Corey Murphey (13) battles West Fairmont’s Steven Hendrixson (14) for the ball during Thursday night’s game. Murphey scored the only goal of the contest in a 1-0 Bees’ victory.

No matter the sport, East Fairmont-West Fairmont brings a little something extra out of the players involved.

There’s the bragging rights, an almost indescribable need to be the one with the ‘W’ next to your name. But there’s also the stuff that goes sight unseen that, in some ways, perfectly describes the rivalry between the school’s boys’ soccer teams.

“There’s going to be some bruises people don’t know about. There’s cheap shots given when the ref is not looking. There’s probably about 30 fouls between pre-kicks,” East Fairmont goalie Garrett Saiko said.

In other words, Bees vs. Bears is a battle to the end.

The latest chapter of the crosstown collision was no different, as East got a first-half goal from Corey Murphey and held on for a 1-0 Senior Night victory Thursday night at East-West Stadium.

“We knew it was going to be competitive and knew we had a challenge. We were just the ones who came out on the good end of the score,” East coach Jim Pearcy said. “The kids are starting to jell.”

While a continuation of a solid start, this win was nearly devoid of scoring opportunities or any kind of offensive flow.

In all, the teams mustered a combined 17 shots (East 9, West 8) on goal and went the first 11 minutes of the second half without one. Aside from a penalty kick and several high crossing shots he had to jump up to save, Saiko was rarely challenged.

The Bees’ defense, a strong point this season, has been particularly impressive in North Central Athletic Conference play, allowing just two goals in six games. Not coincidentally, East is 5-1 during that stretch.

“They’ve played almost 40 games together, so they have an idea of what each other is going to do,” Saiko said of the defense. “And if one person does make a mistake, we have such a good recovery process, someone else is always there.

“Really, they’re my goalie. They limit the shots, and I try to limit the goals.”

West assistant coach Darrin Paul, helping lead the team in the absence of head man Jim DeNardi, felt the Polar Bears didn’t get enough chances offensively, a direct result of East’s ball-hawking defense.

“They hustle to the ball, work well as a group, and they don’t make a lot of mental mistakes,” Paul said. “We didn’t really test them. Garrett’s a good keeper, but if you don’t pummel him with shots, you’re not going to score.”

While East missed on a number of solid attempts during the contest, it found paydirt — and the eventual game-winning goal — when Murphey bounced a header over the outstretched arms of Corey Cleavenger at the 26:28 mark of the first half.

“It came in and I just swung my head and hit it, and it went over his hands and right in the corner,” Murphey said of the play. “I kind of thought we’d get another goal after that, but I knew the first team to score had a good chance to win.”

Added Saiko: “Murph’s so scrappy. He’s 5-foot-3, maybe 130 pounds, but he’ll hit the middle linebacker of West Virginia. He’ll go up against anyone.”

In the early game, the girls’ contest, Lauren Dalton’s hat trick sparked West to a 7-0 romp.

“I’ve got to give the defense credit again,” West coach Debbie Cattafesta said. “We were able to switch some girls around, and it’s nice to have the ability to do that.

“We have eight games to go, and while there’s some teams that concern us, we’re feeling pretty solid. We’re doing pretty well.”

The Polar Bears, who led 2-0 at the half Thursday on goals by Dalton and Lizzy Turner, begun the second half with a flurry, scoring three times in a span of 6:04.

Dalton got her second of the contest on long shot from about 25 feet out that trickled past East goalie Nikki Nuzum for a three-goal lead. Tessa Gardner soon knocked in a header, and Lauren Retton followed with a shot deep along the left corner less than two minutes later.

Dalton added score No. 3, assisted by Camille Leon, later in the half. Tai Cattafesta closed the scoring near the third-minute mark.

Nuzum paced the Bees with 14 saves, 10 in the first half.

Both East squads travel to Brooke Saturday, while the West boys host top-ranked Martinsburg and the girls visit Wheeling Park on the same day.

E-mail Nick Cammuso at ncammuso@timeswv.com.

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