The nervousness arrived for the Beaufort Academy girls soccer team this week, a product of an unknown opponent and playoff week.
The defending SCISAA Class 1-A/2-A champions knew little about first-round opponent Palmetto Christian. They knew there was a target as defending champions and that they would have to play well defensively to supplement what at times can seem an at-will attack in the midfield and up top.
Beaufort Academy is at its best distributing out of the midfield and shared Tuesday as well as it has all season, defeating Palmetto Christian 7-0 with seven players scoring goals.
"We just wanted to make sure our primary goal was to defend rather than attack," senior Miranda Weslake said. "Because we know we're going to score goals. We just had to keep our defense strong."
Never miss a local story.
The Eagles, the top seed in the Lower State, will host Christian Academy from Myrtle Beach on Thursday at a time to be determined. The second-seeded Christian Academy defeated Spartanburg Day in the other Lower State quarterfinal match.
Beaufort Academy (14-1) doesn't know much about its next opponent and might rely only on some intel from Spartanburg Day coaches. Beaufort Academy coach David Byrne expects a closer fight, as his team received in the semifinal last season.
Should the Eagles reach another state final, the matchup would be juicier. At Heathwood Hall in Columbia on Saturday, Beaufort Academy could face Oakbrook Prep in the championship for the third consecutive year. The teams have split the past two years.
A King's Academy-Beaufort Academy state final would be a rematch of a tense game from the 2013 playoffs.
Byrne sees the key to a repeat performance in how well the Eagles play defense. Bryna Ferry, Ting Oreagan and Anna Dyer form Beaufort Academy's new look in the back after losing a pair of college-caliber defenders after the 2013 season.
The new group has played well, Byrne said.
"It's hard to get thrown into that situation," he said. "If you make a mistake in the back, it can result in a goal. You make a mistake up front, and it's not going to sting you."
Byrne thought the first 20 minutes Tuesday were sluggish. Goalkeeper Carli Cline snagged a couple of saves Beaufort Academy probably didn't plan to need.
The push up top provided plenty of support with crisp passing.
Hope Gray scored a left-footed goal off a 30-yard pass from Weslake. Mary Keane assisted Maya Dixon's goal early in the second half, and Keane scored the final goal off a nifty cross from Weslake.
The relaxed victory help calm jitters of the start of playoffs. No guarantees they won't return Thursday.
"Anything can happen in the playoffs," Byrne said. "I think it's hard at times being the defending champion. Teams are gunning for you."
Beaufort Academy 7, Palmetto Christian 0
Goals: Amanda Kahn (9th minute), Hope Gray (12th minute), Miranda Weslake (22nd minute), Allison Alvarez (32nd minute), Mary Alice Strohmeyer (40th minute), Maya Dixon (44th minute), Mary Keane (52nd minute)
Follow assistant sports editor Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.