Class AA-A: Catholic boys break through
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It took a little longer than Charleston Catholic would have liked, but the Irish ended up right where they wanted, and expected to be — on their way to another state championship game after a 2-1 victory against Bridgeport.
Catholic dominated possession for most of the first half of the Class AA-A boys soccer state semifinal at Friends of Coal Trace Fork Soccer Complex, but didn't score until senior Sam Revercomb curled a shot around Bridgeport goalkeeper Jonah James in the 32nd minute. That gave Catholic a lead it never reliquished.
The Irish (22-0-2) will play Fairmont Senior for its fourth state championship at 10 a.m. today.
That initial goal began with a free kick that first found the head of Dominic Cipollone before landing at Revercomb's feet. The senior took a touch and fired a shot that, according to him, he mishit. James dove to his left but could not get a hand on the ball and was left to watch it cross the goal line.
"We're always frustrated in our games because it always takes us a little while to get the first one," Revercomb said. "Usually once we get the first one we get the second and third but today they played well and we're just happy to get the win."
Charleston Catholic had plenty of opportunities, especially in the first half, but sometimes appeared to have trouble placing its shots on the goal. Irish head coach Sam Fox said taking better advantage of their opportunities was a point of emphasis at halftime.
"I wish we'd finished a few more than we had," Fox said. "I've told them all year that I think we're a better team than we've been playing. We played well today but I've seen these boys play since they were 4 and 5 years old, and I know these boys can play better than they have been.
"Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with how they played today but there's always room for improvement."
Charleston Catholic increased its lead in the 52nd minute and, like the first goal, it came on a set piece. Freshman Joey Trupo struck a corner kick into the penalty area that Revercomb was able to get his head on. A Bridgeport defender turned that shot away on the goal line, but the ball rebounded to the feet of Catholic's Tanner Whipkey who was able to poke it into the goal.
Bridgeport (15-5-2) and Charleston Catholic played during the regular season, with the Irish taking a 5-1 victory. Indians' senior defender Trevor Moon said defending Revercomb was a point of emphasis in practice, and that he thinks the team did a much better job of that Tuesday than they did in August.
"It's difficult, he's a very talented player," Moon said. "We did what we needed to do and did the best we could. For the most part we did very well containing him compared to the first game."
Bridgeport cut into Catholic's lead late in the game when senior Logan Lang beat Catholic goalkeeper Mitchel Thorstienson in the 77th minute to make the score 2-1.
But it was too little, too late for Bridgeport, as the Irish clamped down in the final minutes and punched their ticket to today's state final, with the chance to become the first boys team in state history to win four consecutive state championships.
It was fitting that on Election Day the Bridgeport girls soccer team applied the old cliche about voting "Chicago style" to their offense.
The Indians scored early and they scored often in their 7-0 win against Charleston Catholic in the second AA-A girls semifinal.
Bridgeport opened the scoring just three minutes into the game when freshman Mikayla Oliverio put the ball in the net, and Lauren McCarthy put Bridgeport ahead 2-0 in the ninth minute.
The Indians kept scoring, right up to Tori Coulter's tally in the 78th minute.
Catholic freshman Caroline Dundervill said that nerves were a factor for the young Irish.
"I think the freshmen were kind of scared being our first time out there," Dundervill said. "We really wanted to pull it off for the seniors."
In the other Class AA-A boys semifinal, Fairmont Senior easily dispatched Bluefield 5-1.
The Polar Bears struck first on a penalty kick by Justin Sloan in the 20th minute and added another goal two minutes later when senior Fletcher DeVaul was able to get a touch on a long free kick by Grant Holbert.
"The first goal is always a relief," Sloan said. "At the beginning we weren't exactly clicking but once we got that goal everything seemed to fall into place."
The Polar Bears (14-5-4) added a goal by junior Brent Pacoe in the 36th minute and another in the 43rd minute by senior Alec Wadsworth. Two minutes later, a corner kick found the head of Logan Demyon, who made it 5-0.
Bluefield (10-4-2) avoided the shutout several minutes later when Matthew Sabo beat Fairmont Senior goalkeeper Matthew Bartrug, but the Beavers could not get any closer.
Reach Tom Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org