CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston Catholic and Hurricane were crowned state boys soccer champions last year in Class AA-A and AAA, respectivelybut now that seems like a distant memory.
The Fighting Irish, who won their fourth straight title, and the Redskins, who claimed their first, are both in flux as the new season kicks off today around the state.
Catholic became the first school since the state tournament began in 1988 to win four championships in a row, and a fifth will take a lot more work.
The Irish graduated three of their top four goal scorers and starting keeper, a list that includes two all-state players, and will be breaking in a new coach, Domenic Cipollone, who has been an assistant the past two seasons.
"The expectations the last three or four years have been very high, but we hope to continue it,'' said Cipollone. "I think they're going to be better than most people think they're going to be. There are some skills there.''
Sophomore Joe Trupo was Catholic's third-leading scorer last year with 18 goals and was a AA-A second-team all-state performer.
Seniors Noah Cable and Phillip Mallory are also returning along with sophomores Anthony Cipollone, the coach's son, Lucas Gocke, Michael Gilmore and Thad Jameson and juniors David Hamilton, Roger Burdette and Brian Borman. Sophomores Hayden McCarty and Patrick Cline are vying for the keeper duties.
The Redskins, though, are in good hands with Derek Ragle taking the helm after leading the George Washington girls to the Class AAA state title game in his first season as head coach last year. Ragle was also a former soccer player for the Redskins and assistant under Dagostine.
The starting 11 will be primarily players who saw spot duty the last couple of seasons, including seniors Brady Lawman, who will move out of the net to defender, and Timmy Haslett, who will handle the keeper position full time; and juniors Loran Meadows, whose season was cut short with a broken leg last year, and brother Avery Meadows.
Seniors Alex Kayuha, Nick Young, Chris Smith and Guillermo Ugarte, a foreign-exchange student from Chile, and sophomores Devin Lovejoy and Caleb Simmons will fill out the rest of the positions.
"I just keep telling them every day we need to get better,'' Ragle said. "Even my seniors are like young players because they've had to wait behind these starters for their turn.
"I've been real pleased with them. A lot of people think this is the year to get Hurricane and I think these boys are going to prove some people wrong.''