CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Winfield's hard work and resolve paid off last year.
The Generals won two overtime games en route to the Class AAA girls soccer state championship after several crushing defeats the two previous seasons.
Winfield defeated George Washington 4-2 in OT to capture its first title since winning the inaugural three state championships from 1995-97.
Winfield lost 1-0 in a penalty-kick shootout to Morgantown in the 2011 title game and fell 1-0 to eventual state champion University in 2010 in the semis on a last-second goal.
Winfield doesn't seem to be slowing down.
"These girls are driven,'' said Generals coach Marshall Hoff. "We said early on that we'll set our sights for nothing less [than a repeat].''
The Generals remain loaded with junior Jayne Lawman, who was one of only three players to score more than 30 goals in the Kanawha Valley last season with 31 in earning AAA first-team all-state honors, and sophomore Katie Bryant, who notched 13 goals as a freshman.
Seniors Makenzie Arthur, Braiden Madox, who will take over as goalkeeper, Micharae Thompson and Paige Bannister; junior Josee Erlandson and sophomores Kalyn McCray, M.E. Zulauf, Kaylee Cross, Jordan Pauley and Mackenzie Pritt form a solid group.
Senior Lauren Prevett, a transfer from Greenbrier East, and Mary Lawman, Jayne's younger sister, along with eight other freshmen provide a deep bench.
"It's a program now,'' Hoff said. "These kids come ready. You build that intensity. They're battling each other every day.''
Here's a capsule look at the rest of the schools in the Valley in alphabetical order with last year's records in parentheses:
Capital (10-11-1): The Cougars, who finished No. 17 in AAA, hope to keep improving with eight starters back, led by sophomore Ally Reeves, who was second in scoring with 12 goals.
Charleston Catholic (15-6-2): The Fighting Irish, who finished fourth in AA-A, made a surprising march to the state semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Bridgeport and return nearly every starter.
Seniors Annie Crockett (keeper), Sarah Joseck (sweeper), Briana Ross (defender), Anna Whelan (defender), Quincy McKown (midfielder) and Katie Pulliam (forward) hope to take care of some unfinished business.
Sophomores Caroline Dundervill (18 goals), Payton Mullen (14), a Class AA-A second-team all-state selection, Peyton Keener (13) and Amanda George (11) were the top scorers. Sophomores Jada Bond (defender) and Sophie Bumgarner, a midfielder who tallied eight goals, are also back.
George Washington (18-5-1): Megan Johnson, a former all-state player for the Patriots, takes over as coach after Derek Ragle left for the Hurricane boys position. Johnson has a lot to live up to after Ragle took the No. 6 Patriots to the AAA state title game in his only season.
Johnson has plenty to work with in seniors Taylor Ellis, the second-leading scorer with a dozen goals, Emma Hannah and Rachel Mears; and juniors Casey Ellis, Hannah Ellis, Sarah Wilson, Olivia Miller, a second-team all-state goalie after last year, Sarah Bodnar, who notched eight goals, and Gabby Abad.
Herbert Hoover (13-6-2): The No. 5 Huskies turned in their best season ever, and return junior Bailey Aab, a AA-A first-team all-state pick, at goalie, Hannah Schoolcraft, a second-team all-state selection who had a team-high 25 goals, and junior Cassie Hammes, the second-leading scorer with 23 goals.
Hurricane (16-3-1): The Redskins, who were No. 5 in AAA, have bolstered their depth for what they hope is a deep postseason run, although they must contend with Winfield in their sectional. Seniors Kayli Blackburn and Brittany McWatters are back after knee injuries sidelined them last year. Also back are juniors Abby Watson, who tallied 17 goals, and Audrey Barber, who had seven.
Nitro (6-11-0): The Wildcats will be reunited with first-year coach Ruia Roberts, who was the coach at Andrew Jackson Middle School for several seasons. Roberts will lean on seniors Becca Hall, a three-year starter in goal, and Laine Roberts, the coach's daughter who sat out most of last year with a knee injury but led Nitro in scoring with 13 tallies in 2011.
Poca (10-11-1): The Dots, who finished No. 17 last season, return some scoring punch in senior Harley Hutchins (15 goals) and sophomore Mariah Cook (seven).
Riverside (10-10-1): Erin Hendricks and Maddie McDermitt, who led the way with 12 goals apiece last year, are among seven seniors who are looking for a breakthrough year.
St. Albans (9-9-2): First-year coach Kim Aurelio crosses the river from Nitro, where she guided the Wildcats to the AAA state title in 2008. The No. 16 Red Dragons won their opening postseason matchup last year and hope to take another step this year behind seniors Hannah Barton (defender), Maddie Cogar, who had seven goals, Madi Marshall (defender) and Madison Albert (midfielder).
Sissonville (20-3-0): The No. 1 Indians won 15 straight before losing to upstart Catholic 2-1 on penalty kicks in the regional finals.
That will be fresh on the minds of sophomores Madison Jones and Karli Pinkerton, who netted 28 and 19 goals, respectively, last year, and Brooke Reed (keeper).
South Charleston (0-16-1): The Black Eagles' numbers are up from 13 to 25, which is good news for a squad that hasn't won a game since 2009. Seniors Ashley Stricklen, Emily Stricklen, Kirstie Trabert (keeper) and Molly Mottsheard hope that's enough to break the skid.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.