GW girls stun Morgantown
Three out of four ain't bad.
The Kanawha Valley sent three teams to the boys and girls Class AAA championship games Tuesday in the state high school soccer tournament.
Sophomore Sara Bodnar scored off a feed from senior Andrea Breeden in overtime as the Patriots upset defending champion and unbeaten Morgantown 2-1 in the girls semifinals at Schoenbaum Soccer Stadium in Coonskin Park. Senior Emily Cole set up Winfield's first goal and scored another as the Generals rolled past Buckhannon-Upshur 3-0 in an earlier semifinal.
On the boys side, Hurricane received goals from four different players to sweep past Hedgesville 4-0 while Parkersburg held on against defending state champion GW 1-0.
GW (18-4-1) will square off with Winfield (19-1-2) at 10 a.m. today, setting up an all-Kanawha Valley match in the girls finals at Schoenbaum. The Generals easily handled the Patriots 4-1 during the regular season. This will be the first time two teams from the Valley will clash in the finals since the girls tournament began in 1995.
For the boys, undefeated Hurricane (22-0-1) will take on Parkersburg (17-3-2) in the title game at approximately 12:15 p.m. today at Schoenbaum in a battle of the top two teams in AAA in the final state coaches association rankings. The Redskins and Big Reds played to a 1-1 draw in the regular-season finale.
The SSAC postponed the state tournament last week, then moved it to Charleston 16 inches of snow fell on Beckley, where the tourney was scheduled to be held. Teams hadn't played since regionals Oct. 23-25.
The No. 6 Patriots girls advanced to the finals for the third time but are still seeking their first title after losses in 1999 and 2010. Winfield is looking for its first championship since winning the first three girls crowns from 1995-97.
GW defeated Capital in the sectional finals a year after the Cougars upset the No. 1 Patriots, then downed Princeton in the regionals after falling to the Tigers in the Mountain State Athletic Conference championship game. The Patriots lost to Morgantown 3-0 with several starters out with injuries to close out the regular season.
"After losing to [Morgantown], we were hungry,'' said Bodnar, who netted the only goal in the victory over Princeton in regionals. "Everyone doubted us coming into the tournament. We proved them wrong.''
The No. 3 Winfield girls has lost heartbreakers the last two years at states, falling 1-0 in a penalty-kick shootout to Morgantown in last year's championship game and losing 1-0 to eventual state titlist University two years ago in the semis on a last-second goal. The Generals finally broke through in overtime, though, beating Huntington 1-0 in the regionals.
"From Aug. 1, we've been working really hard,'' said Cole. "We've done everything to prepare ourselves for this. Everyone keeps saying the third time is the charm and you just have to believe it. We've gone farther and farther every year. I think this is it. This is our chance.''
In the boys division, No. 1 Hurricane has advanced to states for the fourth time in the last six years, losing to GW 1-0 in the title game in 2007, falling to Wheeling Park 2-1 on penalty kicks in the semis in 2010 and lost 1-0 to eventual state titlist GW in last year's semis.
"They've had a remarkable three years, losing two regular-season games,'' said Hurricane coach Jim Dagostine of his seniors. "All year they've been interesting to coach and they've brought a lot of joy and excitement to our community and school.''
No. 2 Parkersburg will be playing in its nine championship with six titles but none since the last of back-to-back titles in 2009. The Big Reds, though, haven't won a final outside of Beckley.
A capsule look at Tuesday's semifinals:
"I knew if I put it on Sarah's foot, she'd be there and have a good shot,'' Breeden said. "I trust her.''
The No. 1 Mohigans didn't mount much of a counterattack the rest of the way. Morgantown (22-1-1) had several chances before Bodnar's tally, but was turned aside each time by GW sophomore keeper Olivia Miller, who finished with 11 saves and had several diving stops.
"We came in being the underdogs and that's our element,'' said Miller, who sat out the first meeting with Morgantown with an injury. "I held my breath the whole time. We want it so bad. I'm so proud of my team. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.''
As time expired, the GW bench emptied onto the field as the improbable celebration began. Morgantown, which had been ranked for much of the season in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America national fall rankings, had only allowed three goals all season. Mohigans junior forward Maggie Snively, the team's leading scorer, injured her arm in the first half and did not return.
The Patriots surprised from the beginning as Breeden scored off a setup from senior Charlie Lucente for a 1-0 lead about halfway through the opening half and stayed that way until late in the second half.
Junior Kelsie Hibbs sent a header off the crossbar and into the net that knotted the game at 1-all for Morgantown off an assist from senior Payton Southall's corner kick with 15:14 to go in regulation.
"We lost our fire [the last 10 minutes],'' said Morgantown coach Ashley Neal. "Some people started playing as individuals instead of as a team and let the whole team down. It was heart that was missing.''
No. 2 Buckhannon-Upshur (22-2) pressured Winfield at the beginning of the second half, but never really put a hard shot on goal. The Generals weathered the storm, then Cole gave them some breathing room with an unassisted tally with 10:15 to go. Jayne Lawman tacked on a goal with 12 seconds remaining.
"Our hearts were racing and you get nervous because we've been waiting over a week,'' Cole said. "I think the first goal just set the tone and we had it from there.''
Winfield senior keeper Faith Burchett made six saves, including several early in the second half when the Bucs were on the attack.
Senior goalie Kelsey Hinzman kept the Bucs in the game with several dazzling stops and finished with 11 saves.
"I think we were outplayed,'' said B-U coach Tom Hasbrouck. "They're better than us today. I just had a great group of seniors. About 12 minutes in I said to my assistant coach, 'They're playing like they've been here before. We're playing like we haven't.' I thought we were very tentative the first 25 minutes or so.''
Hurricane seniors Daniel McKnight and Alex White followed with one goal apiece before halftime then senior Trevor Cunningham tallied the final one in the second half. Keeper Tim Hayslett stopped four shots.
Senior goalie Ethan Waters turned in six saves for No. 16 Hedgesville (14-7-1), which upset No. 7 Martinsburg and No. 10 Washington in sectional and regional play.
It appeared the No. 5 Patriots (16-6-2) knotted the game at 1-all with 19:38 left in the second half, but the referee waved off the goal.
GW's Drew Davis was awarded a kick from about 30 yards away and sent it over the defensive wall and Strobl's outstretched arms and into the goal, touching off a celebration. The ref then ruled that the kick was an indirect and the ball must touch another player before going in the net to count as a goal.
Garrett Phillips made two saves for the Patriots, which lost seven starters from last year's team to graduation.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.