By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
When the winning team is hoisting the Class AAA trophy at Saturday’s state soccer final, there’s one thing for sure.
It won’t be a repeat.
Last year’s winner won’t be appearing, thanks to the upset-minded Winfield Generals.
The Generals knocked off defending champion Hurricane in the sectional championship match 2-0, before knocking out Huntington 3-2 in the regional final.
Now, the Mike Foster-coached squad is two wins away from being the Cinderella of the Mountain State soccer world — only this time it’s wearing Adidas and Nike boots instead of glass slippers.
Winfield (11-9-3) will come into today’s 10 a.m. match with Parkersburg looking to direct its offense through junior Jesse Richmond and Steven Taylor, who have 12 and 10 goals, respectively.
The Big Reds are hoping to turn Cinderella’s carriage into a pumpkin and win their seventh state championship, their first since 2009.
The two schools met previously, on Sept. 17, when Parkersburg came out on top 4-0. Coach Don Fosselman’s team will look for more of the same in today’s match, and it brings plenty of firepower.
The Big Reds boast four players with double-digit goals scored, led by juniors Tommy Logston, with 22 goals, and Evans Rhodes, with 18.
The Wood County team will return seven seniors, including goalkeeper Reid Strobl, who hope to eliminate the taste in their mouths following last year’s championship loss to Hurricane.
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Perhaps no team is more prepared to bring home the championship than George Washington.
The Patriots (21-0-1) wasted very little time in securing their spot in the state tournament by knocking off Woodrow Wilson 3-0 in the regional final. Senior forward Daniel Glines scored his first of three goals just two-minutes into the match.
The experienced GW squad, which features 14 seniors, has managed to find the perfect balance of offense and defense. The Tom Hopper-coached team has scored 132 goals this season, while the patented George Washington defense has allowed only nine goals through 23 matches.
They’re led on offense by Glines, as well as fellow senior Drew Davis, while the defense is anchored by Connor Boyd and goalkeeper Garrett Phillips, who has recorded 17 clean sheets on the season.
Philips will need to do more of the same today, if GW looks to move past Jefferson and into the finals.
It’s a long drive from Shenandoah Junction to Beckley, and the Cougars aren’t looking to go home early — or without their first state soccer championship.
The Cougars have only two blemishes on their schedule, 1-1 draws to Wheeling Park and Hedgesville, thanks in part to goalkeeper Ian Forrest, who has recorded 12 shutouts this season.
They’ll look to senior winger Tucker Ryan, who leads the team with 13 goals, to do the majority of the damage. He won’t be the only threat on the pitch, however, as Jefferson has several players capable of scoring, including forward Bryan OrCutt, who had the game-winning goal against Buckhannon-Upshur to help Jefferson advance to its first state tournament since 2007.
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Parkersburg and Winfield will take to action at 10 a.m. at Cline Stadium, while George Washington and Jefferson will follow 30 minutes later.
The championship match is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, also at Cline Stadium.