May 4—PLEASANT VALLEY — From the moment Lance Cerullo first stepped into East Fairmont High's soccer program as a freshman sensation in the 2017-18 season, his potential future in the sport at the college level seemed to be more of a matter of 'when and where' as opposed to 'if.'
Four years later, Cerullo, after etching a legendary career with the Bees, officially stamped his destiny of collegiate soccer into reality on Tuesday at East Fairmont High, as he signed his National Letter of Intent and committed to West Virginia Wesleyan College.
"It's super gratifying," Cerullo said. "I've played so much soccer and put so much time into it, and to be able to play at the next level is just a great feeling. (Wesleyan) is a close enough school and I've been looking at it for a while — it's a nice, little private school that doesn't have as many students and they have a really good soccer program that I've always liked."
Cerullo will join the Bobcats, a Division II program in the Mountain East Conference, after what was a standout career at East Fairmont, one that was jam-packed with an all-time combination of heralded individual statistical benchmarks, a wealth of overall team success, and dozens of memorable big-game moments.
Over the course of his high school career, Cerullo received all-state recognition season as an individual, while also helping to power the Bees as a team to a 59-15-10 overall record with a pair of sectional championships, a regional championship, and a Class AA/A state runner-up in 2018.
"I learned a whole lot in the realm of team chemistry and working as a team, just practicing together and working together," Cerullo said.
In high school, Cerullo was constantly at the epicenter of everything East Fairmont did on the field, even as the program switched coaches and bridged between two separate eras.
Cerullo, who finished his career with a statistical landmark of 100 career goals, entered into East's program as a well-acquainted freshman in 2017 following the Bees' undefeated run to the Class AA/A state title the fall before, a team on which his older brother, Logan, was a key part as a senior. Cerullo immediately filled the void at forward vacated by his brother's graduation and proved himself more-than-capable as he tallied eight goals and a team-high 14 assists to merit all-state honorable mention honors for an East Fairmont team that won the sectional title before falling to Weir in a penalty kick shootout in the regional championship.
A year later in 2018, Cerullo again earned all-state honorable mention accolades, this time as a sophomore scoring dynamo on a Bees team that ripped off a 21-1-2 overall record to finish as Class AA/A state runners-up. Then as a junior, Cerullo again jumped up a level for what was yet another powerful EFHS team, as he earned all-state second team captain honors with 32 goals and 24 assists while helping to lead the Bees to a 14-4-2 overall record. Finally, this past fall as a senior, Cerullo finished out his career as the undisputed star and singular force on an East Fairmont team that went 8-7-2 while scoring 22 goals and recording four assists to earn all-state first team honors.
"My favorite memory was my freshman year when I scored against Fairmont Senior to beat them in sectionals," said Cerullo, who scored the go-ahead goal in the 75th minute of a 2-1 Bees' victory for the 2017 sectional title over the rival Polar Bears. "It sticks out because it was the very end of the game and it was tied and I was the new guy there, and I was able to do something good."
Cerullo will now head to West Virginia Wesleyan to join a Bobcats team that went 4-5 this past spring season under head coach Gavin Donaldson. Alongside Cerullo as freshmen entering into the WVWC program next fall will be Fairmont Senior's star Branch brothers duo of Jonas and Isaac, who Cerullo said he has a history with on the field coming up through the years.
"It's super exciting, because I've grown up playing with these guys and now I'm going to the next level playing with them as well," said Cerullo, who plans to study a dual physics and engineering degree program. "Obviously, playing as a freshman will be hard to do, but it's always a possibility and I might get that chance."
As Cerullo moves on to the next level, he leaves behind quite the legacy at East Fairmont as a scoring machine who fit into the Bees as both a piece within a larger championship puzzle as a freshman and sophomore and as a foundational leader for the squad as a junior and senior.
Email Bradley Heltzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bradheltzTWV.