MORGANTOWN — For the first time in school history, the Morgantown boys and girls soccer teams will both compete in the WVSSAC state tournament after qualifying out of Region 1.
The defending state champion MHS girls team and first-year head coach Brianna Frontuto defeated Buckhannon-Upshur 4-1 in the regional championship to qualify for the state tournament as the top seed. No. 4 Hedgesville awaits the Mohigans in the semifinal round on Thursday morning.
For the boys and head coach Sam Snyder, who won their last state championship two years ago in 2021, a 1-0 victory over University secured their Region 1 spot. The fourth-seeded MHS boys will face No. 1-seeded George Washington (18-2-1) on Thursday to kick off the evening session.
Frontuto said being able to take the team to the state tournament in her first season is a testament to the players.
“They’ve adapted to not only the coaching style and style of play but have also executed in areas beyond anything I could begin to touch on in my first year,” she said. “We have a handful of girls with a really high soccer IQ and that was very instrumental for me to get used to coaching in West Virginia as well as executing the game plan.”
The MHS girls have an eye-opening 72 goal differential in their 18 games played this season, scoring 81 and only allowing nine.
Seniors Emily Carpenter and 2022 Gatorade Player of the Year Gracie Brown have led the Mohigans in the attack. Carpenter has a total of 21 goals and eight assists from her striker position while Brown has netted 28 goals with nine assists of her own.
Not to mention, Frontuto and her squad have battled low numbers for the majority of the year, sometimes playing a full match with only one substitute player on the bench.
“This is a team that has faced adversity from the moment they won the title last year,” Frontuto said. “New coach, lost eight seniors, battled injuries and played with nearly no subs, let alone defending the title. I think the grit, hard work, and desire to improve are qualities of this team that drive the culture and it’s unmatched.”
The MHS girls and Hedgesville will kick off the day for the Class AAA soccer tournament on Thursday morning at 10:00 a.m. at the YMCA Youth Sports Complex in Beckley.
The MHS boys return to the state tournament for the first time since capturing the title in 2021. Snyder and company will enter as the four-seed but have confidence in their abilities and game plan as a tough GW team awaits, who the Mohigans lost to 1-0 previously this season.
“Returning to the state tournament is always a blessing because it’s difficult to make the final four,” Snyder said. “We have players who started and contributed to the state championship two years ago and players in the wings who witnessed winning and have since dreamed of being the ones to go out and perform.”
The Mohigans have scored 67 goals this season while only allowing 14 against them. In fact, MHS hasn’t conceded a goal in four-straight matches entering Thursday’s state semifinal.
Senior keeper Tyler Crites has 11 total clean sheets on the season, while junior forward Riley Brabson leads the attack with 19 goals and 12 assists. Fellow attacker Alex Gonzalez-Tanon leads the team with 14 assists of his own.
With a mix of experience and hunger, Snyder says his club is excited about the opportunity and where the program is headed. Also, that having some players who have been in the moment before will help the others on the team.
“You have to remove the feeling from the action,” he said. “So, having seniors who can regulate the nerves of the others is an advantage. On another note, the juniors are an exciting bunch. They have dreamed of this moment since being a freshman. If the seniors are the spine, then the juniors are the juice.”
The MHS boys will begin the evening session for Class AAA on Thursday against top-seeded George Washington at 5:00 p.m. in Beckley.