FAIRMONT - All season, Wheeling Central had the look of a team destined to make its first trip to the West Virginia Class AA/A State Soccer Tournament.
Instead, the Maroon Knights will have to spend the offseason looking toward next year.
Fairmont Senior took it to Wheeling Central from the opening whistle en route to a 4-0 victory on Tuesday at East-West Stadium.
Wheeling Central’s Aspen Matlock and Fairmont’s Ivey Nucilli vie for possession during their game Tuesday night in Fairmont.
"I thought Fairmont Senior played really well and they possessed it really well," Wheeling Central coach David Cross said. "I think we might have had the ball once in the second half. It's hard to score when the other team has the ball the most of the game.
"I was hoping we would have won but it was a great season and the best we have ever done. We have a lot to look forward to next year."
Fairmont Senior was relentless from the start, but Wheeling Central hung in and managed a couple scoring chances with a trio of corner kicks.
The Maroon Knights' lone shot of the first half, an attempt by Beth Stayduhar, was turned aside by Polar Bears netminder Kayla Delorenzo.
From there, though, it was all Fairmont Senior.
Gabi Mascaro got the scoring started with a shot from outside the box that went off the hands of Wheeling Central goalie Regan Blaha and in for a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute.
Blaha had her hands full, having to face 10 shots in the first half, six coming from junior Ivey Nucilli.
The fifth time was the charm as Nucilli beat a diving Blaha low to the right corner in the 34th minute.
"I didn't know a thing about Wheeling Central other than we were seventh in the rankings and they were eighth and what I read in the newspaper," Fairmont Senior coach Debbie Cattafesta said. "Our girls came in amped to play, though. We started out this year with a pretty big mesh of girls that played on an off. But they have really come together.
"We are thrilled to be going back to states. I can't put it into words."
Mascaro scored on a header off a corner kick from Emma Wise four minutes into the second half for a 3-0 lead.
Captain Ali Sansalone completed the scoring in the 67th minute to send the Polar Bears back to the state tournament, where Cattafesta hopes the third time is the charm.
Wheeling Central graduates four seniors but returns a strong nucleus in Blaha, Ashton Cross, Bailey Clark, and Holland Matlock that Coach Cross hopes bounces back.
"This is a great experience and they know what it takes to get here and know now what it takes to get past here," he said. "We have some good girls coming back.
"Beth, Mary (Stahl), Kristen (Jarrett) and Aspen Matlock really laid the foundation and they have been wonderful for us and hopefully the seniors next year will follow in their footsteps."
Fairmont Senior 4, Wheeling Central 0
F - Goals: Mascaro 2, Sansalone, Nucilli; Assists: Woodburn, Wise; Goalkeeper: Delorenzo (2 saves)
W - Goalkeepers: Blaha (10 saves), Clark (2 saves)