Oak Glen girls’ special season ends in heartbreak

PROTECTING — Oak Glen’s Emily Wilson attempts to play the ball away from Fairmont Senior’s Sophie Manchin during Thursday’s West Virginia Class AA/A Region 1 Final at Jimmy Carey Stadium. (Photo by Andrew Grimm)

WEIRTON — The Oak Glen girls’ soccer team’s memorable season came to a heartbreaking end.

Oak Glen and Fairmont Senior were tied at 1 with two minutes left in regulation in the West Virginia Class AA/A Region 1 Final Thursday at Jimmy Carey Stadium.

Overtime appeared to be a possibility, but Mariah Thompson scored off of a cross with 1:58 remaining to be played as the Polar Bears sent the Golden Bears (16-5-1) into hibernation with a thrilling 2-1 victory.

This was the first year Oak Glen had ever won a sectional title and advanced to the regional final.

“It was a great high school soccer game,” first-year Oak Glen coach Ryan Wells said. “I didn’t want to see it end. I am proud of the girls. This is the first time we have got to the regional final. The girls set a school record for wins, we won a sectional title and an OVAC title.”

With the win, Fairmont Senior advances to the state tournament next Friday at Beckley.

Maggie Kovalcik collected the lone goal of the game for the Golden Bears. The goal was unassisted.

Kaylee Travis made six saves in goal.

Tricia Lemasters scored the other goal for Fairmont Senior.

Anna Runyan made six saves in goal.

“Fairmont Senior is the best team we have played all season,” Wells said.

The game was scoreless at halftime. The Polar Bears had the better of the play in the first 40 minutes, but Fairmont Senior had nothing to show for it.

The Polar Bears were finally able to break through for the game’s first goal less than six minutes into the second half when LeMasters scored with 34:28 remaining to be played.

Fairmont Senior held the lead for more than 13 minutes before Kovalcik tied the score at 1 with 21:13 still showing on the scoreboard clock.

Both teams had chances to score the rest of the way, but the Polar Bears were the only ones to find the back of the net.

“I wanted the game to carry over into extra time,” Wells said. “I thought our legs would give us the edge in extra time. They were just able to score one more goal.”

Oak Glen defeated Hancock County rivals Madonna and Weir en route to winning its first sectional title.

“It was a great year,” Wells said. “It was a fun year. We won 16 games. We won a sectional championship. We have a lot of younger girls. They bought in. We were able to get to the regional final. This year deserves to be celebrated. We are going to have a banquet, and we are going to celebrate this season. We have six seniors, and though they all didn’t get the same amount of playing time, they are all leaders. We are going to celebrate this season. I’m looking forward to the offseason.”

The six seniors are Meagan Dawson, Sydney Hall, Alessia Richmond, Olivia Arneault, Kennedy Graves and Jordan Rodriguez.

“Their playing time may not have all been what the other girls got, but all six of them are going to be hard to replace. They were like six moms in the locker room. They led the way for the younger ones.”

The Golden Bears will have a talented team again next season.

“We have eight girls in middle school who are going to come and play,” Wells said. “We are going to lose the six seniors, but we are going to gain eight girls.”