Three teams will return to Beckley Friday to defend their state soccer championship titles, but their will be a new champion on the boys side in Class AAA.
The Charleston Catholic boys and girls will be back on Carter Foundation Field to defend their Class AA/A titles, while the girls from George Washington return to Paul Cline Stadium in hopes of repeating as Class AAA champions.
Morgantown is the lone defending champion that will not return to the City of Champions and neither will perennial power George Washington. The Patriots had won three titles in a row before being beat by Washington in the semifinal round last year.
Greenbrier East (19-2) heads up the AAA boys field making its first-ever appearance at the state tournament. The Spartans knocked of GW in the regional match that went to a shootout.
The boys from Fairlea will open the state tournament against Wheeling Park (16-3-4) at 10 a.m. The Patriots dethroned the defending champs in the sectional final.
Sophomore sensation Tresz McLeod leads Wheeling Park with 35 goals and 14 assists this year, while Wilson Hanna has netted 15 shots and Brody Wall has added 13 goals.
Gavin Border minds the net for Park and has recorded 107 saves on the season, allowing only 21 goals.
Senior all-stater Adam Seams controls the pitch for the Spartans, who also have two strong strikers on the outside in Chase Mizia and Luke Dolin.
Junior Joe Cochran has been described by his coach as the best keeper in the state allowing only 16 goals over his 21 matches played.
The second semifinal matchup features Hurricane (17-3-2) and Spring Mills (16-1).
Senior Nate Kirk leads a balanced Redskins attack who has received double-digit scoring from Jackson Ahebwa, Treyson Ambrose and Gabe Bueno.
After losing to Charleston Catholic in the second match of the season, the Cardinals have won 15 in a row. Isaiah Briggs has recorded 24 goals with Zeke Briggs the next closest with eight.
Morgantown (18-1-1) and Hedgesville (14-2-3) kickoff the girls AAA tournament at 5 p.m. followed by Parkersburg South and George Washington.
The Mohigans have four players with double-digit goals this season led by Gracie Brown who has 22 goals and 16 assists on the year. Emily Carpenter and Ashleigh Weaver have scored 12 goals apiece, while Ariana Borneo has put 10 balls in the back of the net.
The Eagles are also balanced when it comes to scoring with Aleena Simon, Tessa Grisez and Bailey Markley having 10-plus goals each.
The defending champs earned the No. 3 seed and may be playing with a bit of a chip on its shoulder.
Battling through some injuries, George Washington (18-3-2) dropped two games to Hurricane and one to Parkersburg South in the regular season, but did pick up a win over top-seeded Morgantown.
G-Dub has four solid scorers in senior Ava Trethewey and sophomore Deryn Doamekpor with 16 goals each. Madison Rothwell has 13 and Reese Huffman has scored 12.
Sophomore Adrienne Altizer leads the scoring for South with 18 goals and 10 assist on the year. Senior Mackenzie Mott has netted 12 tries for the Patriots.
Look up the word dominance and a picture of the ladies from Charleston Catholic is what you will find. Over the last eight season, the Irish have five Class AA/A state championships, the last three coming in a row, as well as recording three runner-up finishes.
The scary part is it could be argued that this year’s team is the best Irish team so far.
Sporting a 19-0-2 record, Charleston Catholic has scored 116 goals and allowed just four. The two scoreless ties came against Morgantown and Hurricane.
Sophomore Molly Messer leads the Irish attack with 27 goals, while Claire Mullen has 20 goals and 10 assists and fellow-senior Annie Cimino has 14 goals and 13 assists. Freshman Mia Lough has 10 goals on the year.
The opening match for the Irish is a rematch of the 2019 championship against Oak Glen who is also undefeated at 21-0-2.
Oak Glen is led by three dynamic scorers in junior Kami Ward who has 56 goals and 28 assists on the season. Senior Carson Barr has 31 goals and 26 assists, while freshman Aaliyah Siegel has 22 goals.
Philip Barbour (17-4-1) was the runner-up last year and will battle Point Pleasant (14-1-5) for another trip to the finals.
The Colts also sport a trio of girls that can find the back of the net led by Braylyn Sparks with 36 goals and 11 assists. Arrington Sparks has 20 goals and 19 assists, while Caylee Simons has 12 goals.
Sophomore Reece Oliver is the top scorer for the Big Blacks with 28 goals and 10 assists on the year. Junior Madelyn Call has eight netters with 25 assists.
Point Pleasant’s only loss of the season came against the Irish early in the season.
Charleston Catholic and Oak Glen will battle at 9:30 a.m. on Carter Foundation Field. Philip Barbour and Point Pleasant will play 30 minutes after the opening match.
Charleston Catholic is the also the defending state champion on the boys side in Class the AA/A division. Since the state soccer tournament was split into two classes in 2008, the Irish have won six titles overall, but last year’s triumph was the first since 2014.
Just the like girls, Catholic has dominated teams compiling a 20-0-2 record. The two ties were to Class AAA schools, George Washington and Hurricane.
Wins for the Irish include Greenbrier East, who is the top-seed in the AAA tournament, Morgantown, Washington, Spring Mills, Robert C. Byrd, Winfield and Grafton.
Charleston Catholic has netted 114 goals on the season and allowed only 14 so far.
Irish senior Sully Groom is one of the top players in the state, regardless of class. Groom has 38 goals and 24 assists on the season and is followed by fellow senior Kelan Swan with 20 goals and 26 assists. Juniors Michael Loa and Sam Delgra have 15 goals and 18 assists, respectively.
Nearly every goal this season scored by Charleston Catholic has come via an assist.
Grafton will be the first team to takes its chances against the Irish juggernaut. The Bearcats (14-4-4) dropped a 7-3 decision earlier in the season between the two schools.
Five players have double-digit goals for Grafton led by a pair of seniors. Layne England has 16 goals, while Spencer Copeland has 15 on the year. Junior Adrian Joyce has scored 12 times with Jude Minard and Landen Hulley having 10 goals each.
Charleston Catholic and Grafton will kick at 4:30 p.m.
Fairmont Senior (19-1-2) and Point Pleasant (18-2-4) will tangle in the final game of Class AA/A.
The Polar Bears won back-to-back titles in 2019 and 2020. The Big Blacks were runner-up to Catholic last year, falling on a goal from Groom in overtime for a 4-3 setback.
Senior’s only loss this year was a 1-0 decision to Charleston Catholic and the Bears will be itching to get another shot at the defending champs.
Grant Broadhurst leads the Polar Bear charge with 31 goals, while Kaelan Armstrong has 19 netters and 26 assists. Nate Flower has scored 10 goals and has 13 assists. Ro Jones has also scored 10 goals.
Point Pleasant has two solid scoring threats and has lost only to Greenbrier East and Hurricane this year.
Seniors Tyson Richards and Colton Young have scored 24 and 17 goals, respectively, while Ian Wood has assisted on 17 goals and Young on 12 goals.
The championship matches will be played Saturday with the AA/A girls championship starting at 9:30 a.m. The boys final will be 45 minutes after the conclusion of the girls match.
Class AAA boys are up first Saturday at Paul Cline Stadium with a 10:30 kick The girls championship starts 45 minutes afterwards.