Prep soccer: New coach, same goal for Irish
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If Charleston Catholic is going to extend its 55-game winning streak and challenge for an unprecedented fifth consecutive Class AA/A boys soccer state championship it will be done with a new coach on the sidelines.
Sam Fox stepped down as Catholic's coach during the offseason, opening the door for former assistant coach Dom Chipollone to take charge.
Chipollone served as an assistant to Fox in the last three seasons and was previously involved with the Charleston Catholic Middle School program. That experience, Chipollone said, has made taking control of a team with a history of success in recent years much less of a daunting task.
Still, that does not mean everything will come as easy for the new coach as things have seemingly been for the Irish during its dominant run the last few seasons.
"It's a little challenging," Chipollone said. "With the high expectations that have been there the last couple years we'll see how the team does this."
In Catholic's 5-0 rout of Fairmont Senior in last season's state championship game, then-freshman Joey Trupo tallied a hat trick to help lead the Irish to state title No. 4 Trupo is back for his sophomore season along with a pair of sophomore midfielders -- Lucas Gocke and coach's son Anthony Chipollone -- that the elder Chipollone said would play a big part in a team that features just two seniors. That lack of senior leadership has not meant a lack of talent or experience.
"I wasn't expecting them to be as good as they are," Chipollone said. "We did very well at a scrimmage Saturday (against George Washington and Capital) and did very poorly tonight at a scrimmage (at Parkersburg)."
Charleston Catholic begins its season Saturday at 2012 state semifinalist Bridgeport.
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The Kanawha Valley claimed both boys soccer state championships last season, and much like Charleston Catholic in Class AA/A, Class AAA state champion Hurricane will begin its title defense with a new coach.
Derek Ragle takes over for former Redskins Coach Jim Dagostine after serving as the head coach for the George Washington girls last season. Prior to that Ragle, a 2003 Hurricane graduate who played for the Redskins, was an assistant under Dagostine.
"It's going to be pretty cool," Ragle said. "(George Washington) was a great community, it just wasn't home. Hurricane is home. I've lived here pretty much my whole life. It's just good to be back and working with kids in my home community."
The Redskins lost most of their starters from last season's state champions, but return players at a few key positions. Timmy Haslet and Brady Lawman return after splitting time at goalkeeper last season. Ragle also mentioned twins Warren and Avery Meadows as players that had some experience returning this season.
"We do have some players with experience but for the most part a large portion of our team has very little varsity experience," he said.
Like Chipollone at Catholic, Ragle said the weight of expectations for a team coming off a state title can be daunting at first.
"It does weigh on you," he said. "People joke around saying (Dagostine) won one last year so you have to do one better. Those boys have big shoes to fill and I feel like I have even bigger shoes to fill coming in for Coach Dagostine."
Ragle said he would keep with Hurricane's traditional defense-first system that has been used successfully by the Redskins during the last decade.
"I like to think I'm flexible and can change to my personnel, but when it comes down to it if you can't stop team from scoring you're not going to win a lot of matches," he said. "As long as we can keep teams from scoring we'll be OK."
Hurricane begins its title defense Saturday at home against Teays Valley Christian.