Tristan Wierbonski has a tall task ahead of him.
After coaching in Marion County since 2009, he takes over Mark Harvath's place as the boys' soccer coach at East Fairmont, a team training
to defend a championship.
The Morgantown native is well aware of the challenge at hand.
"I've got to fill big shoes," said Wierbonski, who played soccer at Davis and Elkins. "After coming off a state championship year, losing some key, important
players, it's a huge thing to take on your first year."
But just because there's been a coaching change, doesn't mean the goal is any different this year."
"Our goal is to make it back there again and win another one," said Wierbonski. "Back to back would be sweet."
Wierbonski got a first look at his team during the three-week practice window in June. It features young talent like Corey Fluharty, an explosive goal scorer who was a key to last year's success.
"I have a ball at my feet all the time," said Fluharty. I try to work on everything I can in the offseason, so I really don't expect to do any much less than last year. I'm hoping to do more than I did last year."
But noticeably absent from that camp is last year's senior class, a group that featured the likes of All-American defender Andrew Slusser, and helped piece together 19 shutouts during that undefeated season.
Despite losing 10 seniors from last year, Wierbonski doesn't want to change the Bees' identity.
"With the players that we have, we're kind of balanced and strong everywhere. I don't want to change anything," said Wierbonski. "Defense, obviously, has to step up. They lost some key players, and the players that are there, I think, can fill in and are more than capable of doing the same thing as last year."
For those returning players, the offseason is all about getting acclimated to a new head coach, and Wierbonski wants his players to understand that fitness and fundamentals could make the difference for the Bees this fall.
"Hard work, fitness -- it's gonna go a long way," said Wierbonski. "Especially in those tough, gritty, grind games where it could go either way."