BECKLEY — Ryan Shrewsbury scored two goals to propel Winfield to a 2-0 win over Robert C. Byrd in the Class AA-A boys soccer state tournament Friday.
Winfield (23-0-1) advances to the champion game at 9:30 a.m. Saturday against East Fairmont, which defeated Charleston Catholic 3-2 in overtime in Friday’s first semifinal at the YMCA Paul Cline Memorial Sports Complex.
“It was a tough-fought game, which I knew it would be,” Winfield coach Mike Foster said. “They had some chances, missed them, and we were able to finish on a couple of ours. Any game like this, it’s about who gets the breaks. And we got a couple of breaks.”
Shrewsbury’s hard-hit shot in the 67th minute gave the Generals the lead. Then, with RCB pressing forward, Shrewsbury scored again off of a rebound in the final minute to put the game on ice.
Eight minutes before the go-ahead goal, Winfield goalkeeper Nathan Lanham tipped a hard-hit shot from Khori Miles over the crossbar. That was the best chance of the match for the Flying Eagles (16-4-3), who finished as state runners-up the last two seasons.
East Fairmont 3, Charleston Catholic 2, OT
If someone had told Charleston Catholic boys soccer coach Niall Paul that his team would score two goals in a state tournament semifinal on Friday, he’d likely have taken it with a smile. After all, the Irish had allowed only three goals during the regular season.
But East Fairmont’s Corey Fluharty had other ideas, burying his third and game-deciding goal with 6:29 remaining in the second overtime as the Bees (18-0-2) picked up a wild win in a Class AA-A semifinal win Friday morning.
The Irish (22-2) were down two starters across the back line with Tucker Newell and Wilson Meeks both injured. Both tried to go and Newell played the first handful of minutes, but he was forced off and Meeks never saw the field.
“They’re our two fastest defenders, they’ve been a unit for three years, it caused us to push people way out of position,” Paul said. “We’ve known it for about it week and we’ve kept it quiet.”
All three of the Bees’ goals were aided by mistakes from Catholic. Irish goalkeeper Ethan Malinoski misplayed a ball early, allowing Fluharty to put East Fairmont up 1-0 in the 15th minute with virtually an open net.
Catholic responded quickly, getting a goal from Will Jenkins with 17:49 remaining.
That 1-1 deadlock held to the second half as Fluharty again beat Malinoski, who was a bit out of position with 31:08 remaining. But that lead was even more short-lived, as Wil Swan came up with an equalizer for Catholic less than a minute later. Jack Cimino, a senior midfielder, assisted both of Catholic’s goals.
Both teams had opportunities down the stretch and Catholic even more so, including a golden opportunity off a corner kick from Cimino just before Fluharty came up with the game winner.
East Fairmont was called offsides, but under a new rule, if an offsides player touches the ball after it’s deflected by a defender, the play stands. That was ruled to be the case during Fluharty’s third and final tally.
Paul said that Malinoski, the Kanawha Valley Player of the Year and a WVU commit, may have tried to do too much in the absence of Catholic’s defenders.
“I think he put way too much on himself and that’s a shame for him,” Paul said. “He is hands down the best keeper the state has ever seen and he tried to carry the team and do some things that he knows better, and he’s wrecked and hurt.”
It marked the end of a run of four straight state tournament appearances for a big group of Catholic seniors, one that never finished with a championship.