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Kanawha Valley sends six soccer teams to states

Chip Ellis
George Washington's Andrew Wells (15) controls the ball between a host of Woodrow Wilson players earlier this season.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Six Kanawha Valley high school soccer teams will be seeking a storybook ending to their seasons when the state tournament begins this week.

George Washington's boys and girls and Winfield's boys and girls in Class AAA and Charleston Catholic's boys and Sissonville's girls in AA-A advanced to Friday's state tournament semifinals at the YMCA Youth Sports Complex in Beckley. (See Page 2B for pairings and schedule.)

The GW boys finished No. 1 in the state coaches association final rankings and are the only squad still undefeated in its class. The Patriots lost 1-0 to eventual state runner-up Parkersburg in last year's state semis.

This season, the Patriots edged South Charleston 4-3 in the sectional championship then demolished Woodrow Wilson 3-0 in the regional final.

"It would mean everything,'' said GW senior Daniel Glines, who scored three goals in the regional, of winning a state title. "That's what we work for at the beginning of the season. We get a championship, there's nothing better.

"Best week and best games of the year if you make it [to the state tournament]. We all come out and play hard every game. We got tested [against South Charleston]. You want to get tested before you get to the bigger games. It feels good to get tested.''

The GW girls are also after a measure of revenge after falling 4-2 to Winfield in overtime of last year's AAA championship game. The Patriots, who finished fourth in the final rankings, had to weather a shootout to escape with a 1-0 win over Woodrow in the regionals.

"A state title is something GW has never won [in girls soccer],'' said GW first-year coach Megan Johnson, a former Patriots standout. "Being a part of it myself and so close, I want this for the girls even more. The way they fought hard all the way to the end, [they're ready for anything].''

The Winfield girls are seeking back-to-back state titles, something they haven't done since capturing the first three titles in 1995-1997. The Generals, who have been No. 1 most of the season, dispatched Hurricane for the third time this year 4-1 in the section championship, then took care of Spring Valley 3-0 in the regionals.

Now Winfield gets a rematch with No. 2 Morgantown, the only team to hang a loss on it this year, a 1-0 setback. The Mohigans also edged Winfield 1-0 in a shootout in the 2011 title game.

"We've prayed to hope to get to see them in this first round,'' said Winfield coach Marshall Hoff. "We want to see them because that day was a day they caught us a bit out of sorts. There's a lot of emotions there and we look to settle that.''

The Winfield boys are making history, appearing in their first state tournament. The Generals, who ended the regular season with a losing record after only playing with their starting lineup intact twice, blanked defending state champion Hurricane 2-0 in the section title game then shaded Huntington 3-2 in the regional final.

The No. 1 Charleston Catholic boys are looking to continue their championship run by adding a fifth straight title. They're the only team to ever win four straight in any division.

The Fighting Irish looked vulnerable early after plugging some holes, seeing their 64-match unbeaten streak snapped and losing three games, including back-to-back losses for the first time since 2008. Catholic, though, has romped through the postseason, downing Sissonville (4-1) in the section title game and Parkersburg Catholic (5-0) in the regional.

The Sissonville girls finally broke through against Catholic to advance to states. The Indians had lost to the Irish in four meetings in the regionals, but shut out Catholic 2-0 last week. Sissonville lost 2-1 to Grafton in the 2011 state championship game.

"This group of girls has the heart and determination that was different from the previous years,'' said Sissonville longtime coach Ali Sadeghian, whose No. 1 squad is the only undefeated one in AA-A girls.

Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkinson@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.


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