At this point, reaching the SCISAA Class 3-A girls soccer final is no surprise for the Hilton Head Christian girls team. What is a surprise is the team they'll be playing.
The Eagles will face Pinewood Prep at 3 p.m. Saturday at Heathwood Hall in Columbia, one of three SCISAA state championships Saturday involving area teams. Beaufort Academy's girls and boys will each face Oakbrook Prep at 10 a.m. and noon, respectively.
"We thought it was going to be Cardinal-Newman. A lot of people thought it was going to be Cardinal-Newman," HHCA coach Ben Gerdts said Friday night. "Pinewood did a great job game planning and executing."
The 2-1 upset Thursday by Pinewood Prep (17-1-3), a team Hilton Head Christian (15-4) split two games with during the regular season, is a positive development for the Eagles. But it's not because the Panthers are an easier opponent.
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"Now I don't have to depend on other peoples scouting, I can watch the film myself," Gerdts said. "In fact, I scouted them when they played (Hilton Head) Prep, so I've actually seen them with my own eyes three times."
Gerdts said the fact the teams were familiar with each other only adds depth to the game.
"Both sides play really hard, it'll be an aggressive game," Gerdts said. "We play more possession, they play more direct attack. But they have players who can carry it out very well."
Among them is sophomore forward Charlotte Ring, who has scored more than 40 goals this season.
"She's a stud," Gerdts said. "It takes every bit of our defense to contain her."
The Eagles' last state championships were back-to-back SCISAA 2-A titles in 2001 and 2002. This would be the team's first in 3-A.
A few hours before Hilton Head Christian's title shot, the Beaufort Academy girls (14-1) will face Oakbrook Prep (18-0) at 10 a.m. in the 1-A/2-A final for the third straight season. The Eagles won 6-1 last season.
"I'll admit there's a little bit of pressure to win this one for Miranda (Weslake)," Eagles coach David Byrne said of his graduating star. "You want to go out on a good note for someone who's done as much at your school as she has at Beaufort Academy."
At noon, the Beaufort Academy boys (13-6), in a surprise appearance, will face Oakbrook Prep for the boys 1-A/2-A championship.
"This was actually somewhat of a rebuilding year," Eagles coach Bill Dalton said. "So this is really kind of an accomplishment to get to the finals."
SCISAA soccer championship
At Heathwood Hall, Columbia
Beaufort Academy (14-1) vs. Oakbrook Prep (18-0), 10 a.m.
Beaufort Academy (13-6) vs. Oakbrook Prep (13-3), noon
Hilton Head Christian (15-4) vs. Pinewood Prep (17-1-4), 3 p.m.