Prep soccer: Hurricane boys close regular season with win
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's been a roller coaster year for the Hurricane boys soccer program.
The Redskins won the Class AAA state championship last season but shortly thereafter, coach Jim Dagostine retired after seven successful seasons that saw Hurricane reach the State Tournament five times.
Enter Derek Ragle, a three-year assistant under Dagostine at Hurricane, and who coached the George Washington girls soccer team to the state title last season before falling to Winfield in his only season with the Patriots.
On the field this season, the Redskins have been streaky, experiencing their fair share of ups and downs but Hurricane has been on the right side of things lately, and that carried over with a 7-1 home victory over Point Pleasant Tuesday night.
The Redskins' seven goals tied for their second highest outing of the season, matching a win over Spring Valley by the same score. Hurricane ended the regular season on a high note, finishing 12-6-2, and has only lost one game out of their last eight.
Loran Meadows, Guillermo Ugarte and Chris Smith had two goals each for the Redskins and Connor Fowler added the other. Meadows and Ugarte each had two assists.
"It was a fun game and a nice win," Meadows said. "It's always nice when a lot of people get to score a bunch of goals. It's always great when three different guys have two goals each."
"It's always good to get everyone in the game and get as many involved in the scoring," Ragle said. The good about it was the wealth was spread around. The most anyone scored was two goals.
Ragle knew it would take time with such a dramatic change in leadership. Also, losing nine starters off last year's championship team didn't help.
"It's taken a while for us to get use to our new roles," Ragle said. "Myself, the players, and everyone. The guys we lost last year, you can't replace. I'd love to have some of them back but we have done a good job with the guys we have. We have won 11 games. I have been really pleased."
Meadows, one of the few returning players from last season, admitted going through the highs of winning a state title to the lows of losing their coach and most of the players, has been a little difficult.
"It's been hectic and tough but we have tried to make the best of it," Meadows said. "Having coach (Ragle) around has been an easier transition. He coached us before and knew pretty much all of us. It's nice to have a coach you already know and he knew the process."
The Redskins started strong to begin the season under Ragle's guidance with a 6-1-1 record. Hurricane hit a rough patch in the middle of the schedule, losing four games in a row, before finishing strong with a 6-1-1 record.
The Redskins didn't panic during their skid, which included losses to George Washington, Winfield, South Charleston and St. Albans.
"We just tried to stay positive," Meadows said. "We were just looking for wins. We started out pretty good and then we slowed down a little bit. Now we are getting better and it's a good sign. It was very important."
Ragle said injuries helped to slow Hurricane's progress this season.
"We had a couple guys banged up and made some adjustments on where guys were playing on the field," Ragle said. "It has paid off. We have solidified some spots and there's been some adjustments for the better."
With big-game experience, Hurricane is playing its best soccer as the sectionals loom.
"We ended the year on a good note," Ragle said. "We are playing good ball at the right time of the year and hopefully it pays off. We just want to extend the season as long as possible now. If we play with confidence, we can go far."
Hurricane enters the postseason led by Ugarte (28 goals) and Meadows (22).