Beaufort Academy girls come up short against Oakbrook Prep in SCISAA 1-A/2-A soccer final

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comMay 10, 2014 

Beaufort Academy's Miranda Weslake (4) heads the ball over Oakbrook Prep defender Grace Baghdady (8) during Saturday's SCISAA 1-A/2-A championship game at Heathwood Hall.

VAN HOPE — Special to the Packet

COLUMBIA -- Oakbrook Prep knew Beaufort Academy well enough to respect the Eagles' top player.

That didn't stop the Knights from denying senior Miranda Weslake a fitting sendoff.

Beaufort Academy and Oakbrook met again Saturday at Heathwood Hall, the teams in the SCISAA Class 1-A/2-A girls soccer final for the third consecutive year. Oakbrook won in 2012, Beaufort Academy in 2013.

It made sense then, for the rubber match to require overtime. The Knights won 6-5 on Holli Hinds' penalty kick just before extra time in the second overtime period.

"That was a great game, well-fought game," Beaufort Academy coach David Byrne told his team as it prepared to accept the runner-up trophy. "I know it's not fun to lose that way."

The goal ended a back-and-forth contest during which Beaufort Academy senior, Clemson-bound Miranda Weslake, showed why she ends her high school career as one of SCISAA's best ever. Weslake scored three nifty goals Saturday, the last a header off a corner kick in the 71st minute that sent the match to overtime.

"I told the girls you can replace certain players, but Miranda's obviously irreplaceable," Byrne said.

Each team scored in the first overtime, the Knights striking first before Beaufort Academy's Hope Gray tied it on a left-footed blast off a throw-in from Weslake.

Near the end of the second overtime, Hinds' run up the left side ended with a whistle in the box. She delivered the penalty kick just inside the right post.

Knights coach Elizabeth Myers wanted to neutralize Weslake during the overtimes, using a box-and-one analogy from basketball. She marked Weslake with Caroline Comer and Maggie Macdonald.

"If I lived closer to Clemson, I would love to watch her play every game," Myers said. "She's so fluid. Nothing rattles her much. It's hard to play someone like that, because you want to get under their skin a little bit."

The Knights could afford to apply more pressure to Weslake after Eagles striker Mary Keane left 15 minutes into the game with an injury after scoring her team's first goal.

Beaufort Academy finished the season 14-2 after the third consecutive state title appearance. The Eagles won the championship in 2013 by defeating Oakbrook 6-1. The previous season, the Knights won 3-2.

Byrne said he saw a bigger, more physical Knights team this year. The state championship appearance was the 11th for Byrne, who encouraged his players to take the field as a team for the runner-up trophy.

The Knights finished the season 19-0 to claim the program's third championship.

Oakbrook's Olivia Hinds, who scored two goals, said the Knights knew Beaufort Academy had lost its primary defenders from the previous season and wanted to take advantage of the younger back line.

They just hoped to control Beaufort Academy's strength, distributing the ball from the middle through Weslake, as much as possible, Hinds said.

"We talked about having our defense stay strong," Hinds said.

SCISAA Class 1-A/2-A girls soccer championship

Oakbrook Prep 6, Beaufort Academy 5 (OT)

Goals: BA -- Mary Keane (Eighth minute), Miranda Weslake (17th minute), Weslake (30th minute), Weslake (71st minute), Hope Gray (87th minute). OP -- Olivia Hinds (10th minute),Hadley Hudson (27th minute), Hinds (49th minute), Hudson (55th minute), Leah McGetrick (86th minute), Holli Hinds (98th minute).

Follow assistant sports editor Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.

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