It may have seemed a little understated on Thursday, but the USC Beaufort women's soccer team was playing in one of the biggest games in its brief history.
And by beating Southeastern 1-0 at Fin Land Field, almost three full seasons after starting play, the Sand Sharks guaranteed that their next game would definitely be the biggest in the program's history.
When USC Beaufort (8-8-1, 4-4) hosts Ave Maria at 1 p.m. Saturday, a guaranteed nonlosing season and a home Sun Conference tournament game will be on the line.
"It's huge for us," goalkeeper Chelsie Mummert said. "Coach reminds us every day that we could host a game here. It would be the first time it's ever happened. It's a big deal. We're very excited about it."
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But before they could think about Saturday, the Sand Sharks had to endure a physical game from the Fire (3-12, 1-7). Mummert said she could watch the tussling from in goal.
"I just wanted to keep the girls calm about it because I know, most of the time, if you yell back, the refs are not going to lean toward you," said Mummert, who made five saves in the shutout. "So you're better off just to put your hands up and let the refs see."
Sand Sharks coach Ed Heberling spent much of the match shouting at the officials about the pushing and shoving.
"We're a physical team," Heberling said. "We've got some strong girls out there. Part of our recruiting was to bring in some stronger players. It's something we're used to. But we just prefer that it be more fair in the calls. It's normal for us to get that kind of physical play. We like it."
If Heberling truly liked the physical play, he was even happier when USCB broke the scoreless deadlock in the 68th minute.
Freshman Shannon Blair took the ball deep into the Fire's half of the field before crossing the ball to another freshman, Megan Benoist, who found the back of the net.
"It bounced around up top and then Shannon took it down the line," Benoist said. "Then she put it across just under their defender, and I was in the back."
Heberling said the goal was textbook Sand Sharks, a play they work on every day.
"We want them to play the ball back across the mouth of the goal because the goalkeeper is slow to shift," the third-year coach said. "And Megan was there to put it in."
The Sand Sharks successfully stymied the Fire the rest of the way to close out their eighth victory of the season. The next one would match last year's total and bring a Sun Conference tournament game to Bluffton.
"Hosting the game would be big for us," Heberling said. "We're right there to do it. We've just got to win one more game."
USC Beaufort 2, Southeastern 1
Southeastern 0 0 -- 0
USC Beaufort 0 1 -- 1
Goals: USCB -- Megan Benoist.
Assists: USCB -- Shannon Blair.