BECKLEY – Winfield’s quest for a Class AA-A state championship came to an end on the same frozen field turf it came to fruition on a year ago.
Bubby Towns found the back of the net with 10:16 left to go in the game and Fairmont Senior made it stand up in a 2-1 win over defending-champion Winfield in a Class AA-A semifinal on a frigid Friday evening at Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex.
Fairmont Senior (17-3-5) is set to take on the winner of Charleston Catholic and Robert C. Byrd on Saturday in the state championship game. The Irish and Eagles played the late game Friday.
Winfield had plenty of opportunities, especially in the first 20 minutes of the second half and finished with a 9-5 advantage in shots on frame.
But Polar Bear goalkeeper Angelo Sabatino made eight big saves and Senior’s defense down the stretch was able to hold off a frantic flurry from Winfield (19-2-4).
“Double A down here is wide open,” Fairmont coach Darrin Paul said. “We had opportunities and capitalized on two great ones, they had a couple opportunities and didn’t capitalize on a couple that maybe their coaching staff felt they should have.
“I thought the biggest thing we did today is what we’ve done all day – we were resilient.”
The teams played to a 0-0 tie in the regular season but each team found a score in the first half. Senior’s Billy Tobin found scored with 26:03 remaining in the first half and that 1-0 lead for the Polar Bears stuck for about 20 minutes.
Winfield tied it up with 6:16 left as Tarek Jarrouj found the foot of Braxton Vanscoy who scored his 40th, and as it turned out, final goal of the season.
The Generals put five shots on frame in the second half including three of them in the first five minutes of the second half, but just couldn’t quite break through.
Winfield will say goodbye to eight seniors who guided the team back to the state tournament despite losing five key senior starters from a state-championship squad a year ago. Along the way, the Generals lost just two games in two years and Friday’s defeat to Fairmont Senior was the program’s first loss to Class AA-A competition since at 2017 regional final loss to eventual-champion Nitro.
“I think as a team these past few years, we’ve played really well together and clicked well,” Generals senior goalie Nathan Lanham said. “It shows how bad we wanted this state championship but sometimes, the other team is better.”
“It’s been incredible,” senior defender Jacob Verno added. “Losing two games in two years, that’s insane. I just wish we could’ve come out with more.”
Lanham made three saves for Winfield.