Josh Velluci's classmates had been pestering him for weeks.
The Beaufort High School soccer team knew the senior could make an immediate impact this season. It didn't matter that their friend hadn't played the sport since roaming the field way back as an 8-year-old.
"I was iffy because I didn't know how much I would like it at first," Velluci said. "I haven't played in a while."
He's certainly liking it now. The first-year player netted a pair of goals Saturday against Hilton Head Island High before teammate Santee Rabon's golden goal in the 90th minute delivered the Eagles the Beaufort Cup title with a 3-2 victory in double overtime.
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"They've been telling me to play for about a month," Velluci said afterward. "The day of tryouts, I made my decision and came out there. I've loved it ever since."
Saturday's performance likely cemented that. The senior broke open a scoreless tie in the 37th minute, as he fought through a scrum in front of the goal before pushing the ball past Hilton Head High keeper Conner Goulet.
After the Seahawks tied it up in the 41st, Velluci was back at it again in the 72nd, booting in the go-ahead goal after Goulet dropped the ball on a shot attempt seconds earlier.
"I think it showed a lot about us, that we wouldn't give up," Velluci said. "In the first half we were down. We were playing really slow and they controlled the ball most of the time. At the end of the first half, we started playing really quick and moving the ball well."
But Hilton Head High wouldn't go down so easily. The Seahawks -- showing the same flair for the dramatic that led them to the state championship last season -- forced the game into overtime in the waning moments of regulation, as Chip Tremarelli found Chris MacMurray on a fast break in front of the net in the 76th minute.
The Georgia Southern signee kicked it in to the right side, pulling Hilton Head High (2-1) into another deadlock and seemingly setting the stage for another dramatic win.
The Eagles (3-0) had other ideas. With just seconds remaining before penalty kicks, Rabon forced in the winning goal after ripping a shot that glanced off a Hilton Head High defender and into the net. The lucky bounce sent Velluci and Co. screaming toward midfield as the Seahawks stood bewildered around the net.
"It's something where hopefully my character, my personality is rubbing off on some of the guys not to give up," coach Stephen Aldred said. " ... It just shows the character of this Beaufort High team.
"We've been very close the last two or three years in the state. I'm hopeful we can have a strong challenge for the region this year."
Hilton Head High, meanwhile, was left lamenting what could have been. The Seahawks, who entered ranked second in Class 4-A, missed several point-blank shots and came up short when it mattered most.
"We are going to go as far as our seniors carry us," coach Wayne Quinlan said. "The guys that didn't put balls away, they need to burn inside and when they get back out to train on Monday they've got to get better. There's no such thing as a casual finish.
"We don't have that big of a margin of error on this team. We're OK, we're not as good as we think we are. But we're OK, and we can be pretty good. But our margin of error is pretty tight. We've got to finish those balls."
The Beaufort Cup
Saturday, at Hilton Head High
Beaufort High 3, Hilton Head High 2 (2OT)
Goals: Beaufort High -- Josh Velluci (37th, 72nd), Santee Rabon (90th); Hilton Head High -- Steven Rendon (41st), Chris MacMurray (76th)