Luck, prediction and a little bit of skill.
Mike Ritterbeck says there are three keys to stopping a penalty shot. And he needed every one of them Wednesday night.
Hilton Head High's goalie made the lone save of a shootout against rival Bluffton High School, leading the Seahawks to a 1-0 win in the two teams' Region 7-AAA openers. The Seahawks won 5-3 in the shootout.
Ritterbeck stoned a laser off the foot of striker Ryan Blizzard, Bluffton's first attempt of the shootout. The two were soccer teammates for much of their childhood careers -- Ritterbeck as a goalie and Blizzard as a goal scorer.
Ritterbeck said his gut told him to predict Blizzard would use a longtime tendency.
"I played with him for a bunch of years when we were little, and I kind of thought he was going (to my) left," Ritterbeck said. "He did. I got lucky. You (have) to guess right."
Bobcats goalie Chris Sullivan got a piece of the Seahawks' final two attempts -- the first from Ruben Romero and then the game-clincher from Edwin Hernandez -- but both shots trickled past him and into the goal.
It provided a thrilling finish to an otherwise lusterless game blanketed by a consistent downpour. The field at Bobcat Stadium was sloppy, as was the 90 minutes of play.
But the win counts just the same -- and the Seahawks certainly will take it. They felt a goal was incorrectly discounted in the first half to keep the game scoreless. Robbie Iulo kicked in a rebound shot in the 35th minute, but he was called for a handball, negating the goal. Iulo said the ball never touched his hand.
The two teams didn't see many scoring opportunities afterwards, with the game turning into a defensive battle in the muddy conditions. Ritterbeck made just two saves for the shutout, and Sullivan only needed three.
"The conditions made it an interesting game," Bobcats coach Josh Fox said. "But every single time we play these boys, it's close. We didn't expect anything less tonight."
This time, though, the Seahawks left in the early driver's seat in a new-look Region 7-AAA that now includes Cane Bay and Berkeley.
The two rivals shared the region championship a year ago. But Wednesday marks the first time in three seasons Hilton Head High has won the first meeting.
" In the overall scheme of things, I think the kids understand they've got some good days ahead of them," Seahawks coach Wayne Quinlan said. "This is just a little piece of the whole picture."