Amanda Saymon (4) and her Bridgeport teammates celebrate after beating Fairmont Senior.
Both Bridgeport and Fairmont Senior were making their first appearances in a girls soccer state championship game Wednesday, so one of the teams was going to be leaving the Trace Fork soccer complex with its first soccer championship hardware in program history.Move over football, the Bridgeport girls need a spot in the trophy case.The Indians withstood a late rally by the physical Polar Bears to hang on for a 3-2 win to clinch the Class AA-A state championship in the matchup between rivals from the Big Ten Athletic Conference.Bridgeport coach John Reese said it was a little more special to beat Fairmont Senior because of family ties to Fairmont and the rivalry between the two schools."It was nice for me because my dad was a Polar Bear and my uncle was a state champ in wrestling for the Polar Bears," Reese, a 1980 graduate of East Fairmont, said. "To beat a Fairmont school - it was nice."Alexis Alastanos got Bridgeport on the scoreboard first but the Indians could not hold the lead as Fairmont Senior's Ivey Nucilli beat Bridgeport goalkeeper Mariah Hall to even the score just before halftime.The Indians pushed back in front in the second half when the Fairmont goalkeeper took Alastanos down in the box on what would have been a clear path to the goal. Bridgeport was awarded a penalty kick and sophomore Amanda Saymon calmly deposited the ball in the back of the net."There was pressure but even if I didn't make that I had the support of the team behind me and we probably come back and score," Saymon said. "We wanted to win this really bad. Their physicality plays a factor a little bit but you've just got to play your own game and don't let it get to your head."
Bridgeport added to its lead with less than 20 minutes to play when Alastanos scored her second goal of the game, but the Polar Bears were not beaten just yet.Junior Gabi Mascaro fought her way through the Bridgeport defense with three minutes to play and scored to bring the Bears within one goal with little time remaining. From that point on the Indians packed in on defense and were able to withstand the Fairmont Senior barrage to preserve the win."We wanted it so bad," Mascaro said. "We've never even come close to going to a state tournament. We've had losing seasons and this has been the greatest experience ever. I don't care about the result, I'll never forget this."Mascaro said the opportunity to win a championship against Bridgeport was one she enjoyed despite the outcome."I consider Bridgeport a bigger rival than East Side [East Fairmont] honestly," she said. "I've been playing against and with those girls. Amanda Saymon is on my travel team. I'm not going to say I wish they didn't get it because they deserved it but I just wish we would have got it."Reach Tom Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org.