Hilton Head Island girls return to 3-A soccer final

Seahawks blank Swansea, will face Eastside again

ccox@islandpacket.comMay 13, 2013 

Ernie Suozzi first set the goal last season, just minutes after his Hilton Head Island High girls soccer team walked away with its second consecutive state championship.

"I'm trying to think of what else we could possibly do," he said after the 1-0 victory over Eastside. "A three-peat would be nice."

One year later, his Seahawks will get that chance.

Hilton Head High booked its ticket to a third straight Class 3-A state title match with a dominating 3-0 victory over Swansea on Monday in the Lower State championship.

The Seahawks will have a familiar foe waiting on the other end in Friday's season finale at Gilbert High, as Eastside upheld its end of the bargain with a 2-0 triumph over Greenville in the Upper State championship.

Faith Lifer scored the only goal the Seahawks needed in last season's match, as her score in the 28th minute lifted Hilton Head High to back-to-back titles. It was only fitting then that the senior led her team back to the final Monday, as the Wofford signee connected on a goal in the 42nd minute to provide Hilton Head High (22-3) an insurmountable 2-0 lead.

"I just come out to play," she said. "I don't know. We just all work really well together. It was fun to play one last game here."

Freshman Claudia Murphy, one of the few youngster's performing on a senior-laden team complete with seven future college players, handled the rest. She gave Hilton Head High a 1-0 lead in the 15th on a shot into the right corner before adding to her total just after halftime in the 49th.

"It's been a really good experience," she said of playing with her senior teammates. "They've all taught me a lot. You pick up different styles from the way they all play. It's just been really fun."

Murphy was a sixth-grader the last time Hilton Head High lost in the postseason, a 3-0 defeat at the hands of South Aiken in the 2010 Lower State final. Lifer, a freshman on that team, said she and her teammates had no plans to repeat such a disappointment this time.

"We never wanted that to happen again because it didn't feel right," she said. "So we work hard before the season starts and we continue that throughout."

Any thoughts of a loss Monday quickly dissipated, as the Tigers (21-3) managed to cross midfield just a handful of times against a stingy and swarming Seahawks defense.

"That defense stuns," Suozzi said.

No other words were necessary to define them. Their latest shutout marked the 18th of the season for the Seahawks, which ties the supposed school record set just a season ago.

"I like what we're doing," Suozzi said. "You can't say a whole lot more about it. If you don't let the other team cross midfield you can't get hurt."

Hilton Head High 3, Swansea 0

Goals: Swansea -- None; Hilton Head High -- Claudia Murphy (15th, 49th), Faith Lifer (42nd)

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