Hurricane boys, Winfield girls face familiar foes in soccer regionals tonight
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Hurricane boys and Winfield girls soccer teams have quite a history with their regional opponents today.
No. 4 Winfield (17-1-2) will take on No. 14 Huntington (11-6-4) at 5:30 p.m. in the Class AAA Region 4 girls final at Cabell Midland High School in Ona, followed by No. 1 Hurricane (20-0-1) facing No. 3 Huntington (16-2-1) at approximately 7:30 p.m. in the boys Region 4 final.
The regional winners advance to the state tournament, which will take place Nov. 2-3 at the YMCA Sports Complex in Beckley. (See Page 2B for regional pairings.)
Huntington and Hurricane boys squads were set to play this year, but because of a scheduling snafu didn't face one another. The two teams do, however, have quite a track record.
The Highlanders blanked the Redskins 2-0 in 2008 in the semifinals of the boys sectional tournament and 2-1 in the sectional title game in 2009, when Hurricane was undefeated, unscored upon and nationally ranked.
Hurricane registered a 4-3 triumph in penalty kicks in 2010 and a 2-1 win last year over Huntington in the section final. The Redskins went on to lose 2-1 to Wheeling Park on penalty kicks in the state semis in 2010 and 1-0 to eventual state titlist George Washington last season.
"This is a group of players that have been together for four seasons,'' Hurricane coach Jim Dagostine said of Huntington. "They've been denied the opportunity to move on and go to the state tournament. They just don't put out any weak players at any position. They play well together and they've been through a lot together.''
Hurricane enters with plenty of momentum, possessing an undefeated record and capturing the Mountain State Athletic Conference championship.
The Redskins have one of the top goal scorers in the state in senior Felipe Thompson, a foreign-exchange student from Santiago, Chile who leads the Kanawha Valley with 44 goals. He has some help, too, with Trevor Cunningham's 12 goals and Alex White's 11.
"Our guys are confident,'' Dagostine said. "I'm confident in them. We haven't lost a game yet. We've played a very difficult schedule. Our kids along with myself think we can win. We're motivated, too.''
In other regional games today, No. 2 Parkersburg squares off with No. 11 University in Region 1 and No. 16 Hedgesville, fresh off an upset of No. 6 Martinsburg in the sectionals, plays No. 17 Buckhannon-Upshur. The Region 3 boys and girls games were moved to Wednesday because of a scheduling conflict.
Winfield will be playing Huntington for the third straight year in the girls regional.
The Generals claimed a 2-1 victory last year and 3-1 win two years ago. Hurricane handled the Highlanders 9-1 during the regular season this year, but that was only a few weeks into the season.
"They have a lot of talent,'' Winfield coach Marshall Hoff said of Huntington. "It's going to be nothing less than a battle. The thing we do know for sure is the 80 minutes between us and Beckley.''
The Generals have some unfinished business at states and are determined to get back to take care of it. Winfield fell last year in the state championship game 1-0 to Morgantown on penalty kicks and lost 1-0 on a last-second goal two years ago it the semis to eventual state champion University.
"It's not left their minds,'' Hoff said. "We walked off the field last year and we set that goal together to make our way back and finish what we almost had. They've really worked hard to achieve what we have now. They're driven and focused for what they're after.''
Winfield's tandem of Emily Cole, who has netted a team-high and Kanawha Valley second-best 30 goals, and Jayne Lawman, who has 27 goals, pace the offense. Katie Bryant has 12 goals to give the Generals plenty of punch. Winfield keeper Faith Burchett has 10 shutouts and her team has yielded just 15 goals.
"We want this match to be better even than the last,'' said Hoff. "It'll take 80 minutes of everything we've got, that's for sure.''
In other regional matchups today on the girls side, No. 15 Wheeling Park plays No. 1 and defending state champion Morgantown, which is No. 22 in the National Soccer Coaches Association fall rankings, in Region 1 and No. 9 Washington squares off with No. 2 Buckhannon-Upshur in Region 2.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.