FAIRMONT - For the first time since soccer split into two classes five seasons ago, the Weir boys' team won't be making the trip to Beckley for the West Virginia High School State Soccer Tournament.
Instead, it will be Fairmont Senior earning a spot in the annual tournament in its first season after dropping down to Class AA/A with a 2-1 victory against the Red Riders.
"It's a little bit tough but when we played them the first time it was 5-1 and they said we wouldn't be a factor," Weir coach Joe Pepe said. "We gave them a game. They are a big Double-A school that dropped down and our kids fought with them. You can't take anything away from our kids. We had a good season.
KEEP AWAY — Weir’s Alex Hannah tries to keep the ball away from Fairmont’s Brent Pascoe during the first half of Tuesday’s 2-1 win by the Polar Bears, which ended the Red Riders’ season at 16-4-2.
-- Josh Strope
"The sun will come up tomorrow, and Weir soccer will be back."
After a back-and-forth first half, Weir (16-4-2) thought it was heading into halftime with a 1-0 lead, but Fairmont Senior (14-5-3) executed a perfect corner kick as time was expiring.
Ryan Rosier's kick found the head of Fletcher Devaul, who buried it past Weir goalkeeper Matt Tenaglio with 1 second left on the clock.
"We didn't mark a man and the kid climbed up and got it," Pepe said. "It was a little bit of miscommunication."
Added Fairmont Senior coach Jim Denardi: "It was tremendous. To get the game tied, that changed the whole second half. When you get a goal late like that, it really propels you. But it didn't seem like it hurt Weir cause they came out in the second half determined."
Maybe, but the Polar Bears carried that late momentum and controlled play in the second half.
Fairmont Senior outshot Weir, 7-1, in the final 40 minutes.
Weir's best chance come on a shot from Shane Davis from 30 yards out that went over Polar Bears goalie Matt Bartrug, but hit the crossbar and went safely back into the field of play.
The Polar Bears scored the game-winner in the 72nd minute as Logan Demyon's shot was deflected by a Weir defender and landed right in front of Brent Pacoe.
The junior forward buried the ball past a diving Tenaglio.
Fairmont Senior didn't allow a Weir shot on goal in the final eight minutes to clinch its first trip to the state tournament since 2009.
"It feels good to get back down to states and this group of guys is a group that has overachieved all year," Denardi said. "We are probably not individually the most talented team, but everybody plays hard and everybody plays for each other and that's how you win games."
Alex Hannah was credited with the Weir goal that put the Red Riders up 1-0 in the 19th minute when his corner kick glanced off a Fairmont Senior defender and into the net.
"We won our division in the OVAC, are sectional champs, and were one goal away from tying it up so this was a good season," Pepe said. "The coaching staff and I will take this back and rebuild and hopefully we will do what we can do get things ready for next year."