09 Jul Borneo introduced as new Fairmont State women’s soccer coach | Fairmont State Falcons
FAIRMONT— The Fairmont State Falcons women’s soccer program has ascended to become a perennial postseason contender the past three years, making the MEC tournament in each of those seasons, and winning a tournament game each of the last two.
The Falcons’ 2018-2020 teams took a significant step forward from their 2015-2017 renditions, where the team went 9-34-11 overall.
Now with the 2021 season inching ever closer, Fairmont State Director of Athletics Greg Bamberger introduced Kernell Borneo as the new head coach of the women’s soccer program Thursday.
In his introductory conference from inside the Feaster Center, the new coach made it clear his goal is to continue the upward trajectory the team has been on.
“I personally believe, and when I spoke to the girls, this year we can compete for a conference championship,” Borneo said. “And I’m saying that confidently and I know the players feel the same way. That’s the goal for the program this year and then move on and compete as a regional contender and nationally as well.”
Borneo brings a wide range of experience to the Falcons. A former college soccer player at Missouri Baptist University and West Virginia University, Borneo graduated from WVU in 2003 and became the head coach of the boys soccer team at University High School in Morgantown from 2005 to 2007.
Borneo has been the director of soccer at Pro Performance and FC Alliance in Morgantown since 2008, and has performed the same role at Tri State Elite since 2015. He has also coached in several different training camps, including WVU’s men and women’s soccer camps.
Even with extensive experience training youths as athletes, Borneo made a point in his first press conference to emphasize how important academics will be viewed within his program.
“I believe it is important first and foremost that the girls come here, enjoy their time at Fairmont State, get their education, graduate,” Borneo said. “The goal is to get all the players to do their due diligence, perform in their studies, get the right GPA to play, and excel in making the team one of the best in the conference.”
Borneo graduated from West Virginia University with a bachelor’s degree in communications, an achievement that Fairmont State President Mirta Martin pointed to as exemplary of the qualities he brings to the job.
“His educational journey and the importance he places on earning a college degree is central to his approach to coaching student athletes,” Martin said. “He’s not here just to win championships, which we certainly expect, he is here to also develop young athletes into exceptional adults. He has an incredible cadre of young women who are already exceptional adults and exceptional athletes.”
The Falcons received major contributions from young underclassmen in 2020. Players like Kiera Kuzinski (last season’s MEC women’s soccer Freshman of the Year), Ari Christiansen and Taylor Kennedy all have multiple years left in their college careers, and a chance to improve upon themselves with a new coaching staff.
“I have spoken to quite a few of the players — their excitement, just the energy and the passion from the players, I can tell that they want to excel,” Borneo said. “And they want to do well, which is the same for me as well. I’m very happy to lead the teams and the players moving forward.”
In 2019, the team finished 13-5-2 (11-2-2), was crowned MEC North Division Champions and made it to the MEC Tournament Championship where they lost to Concord 3-0. Fairmont State finished their abridged 2020 season 5-1-4 (4-0-4), beating Charleston in the MEC quarterfinals but once again falling to Concord, this time in the semifinals.
Last year, the Falcons were coached by Ryan Courtney, who filled in as interim head coach after former headman Brandon Heembrock departed from Fairmont State after three seasons.
“Awhile ago it became apparent that we were going to have to search for a new women’s soccer coach, so we started a process as quickly and as efficiently as we could,” Bamberger said. “And once the applications came in, it became apparent that we didn’t need to look very far, geographically, to find the next leader of our women’s soccer program.”
Borneo’s team loses just three players from last season as the Falcons bring a young core into his first year at the helm. Fairmont State has not yet released their soccer schedule for the upcoming season.
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