Dani Tosky was trying her best not to cry.
The Bluffton High School girls lacrosse coach has endured her share of struggles in this, her second year with the program. The Bobcats replaced a bevy of talented seniors from last season's roster and have welcomed a crop of newcomers new to the sport this year.
The transition hasn't been as seamless as Bluffton would have liked. But the pressures of a trying year were somewhat alleviated Wednesday, as the Bobcats registered a thrilling 12-11 upset victory over Hilton Head Island High.
"I'm trying not to get emotional," she said. "It's just been a struggle. We lost a lot of girls and it's been nonstop losing, losing and losing."
That losing took a day off on this night. Senior midfielder Katie Sills took care of that, registering a career-high nine goals in the victory, the last of which broke a 12-all stalemate on a penalty shot with two minutes to play.
"That was something," Sills said. "It's just nice, because we've been having such a hard season. It's nice to finally be able to connect the dots and see the team like this. It makes me think the (younger players) will want to come back again and make the sport even better."
Sills scored all six of Bluffton's first-half goals and gave the Bobcats a 2-0 lead before Hilton Head High (3-4) fought back into it. The Seahawks, led by three-goal performances from Katy Bautista and Kirsten Wartko, rallied for an 8-6 halftime advantage.
But Bluffton (4-6) scored each of the first three goals of the second half to temporarily take a 9-8 advantage. The Seahawks responded with a trio of goals before Madison Aust and Sills capped the victory with three consecutive scores.
The win snapped the Seahawks' recent dominance in the rivalry, as Hilton Head High had won seven of the last nine meetings.
"I've been here since eighth grade, and we've seen their team grow and we've seen our team grow and fluctuate," Sills said. "It feels nice to finally be on the same playing field as they are."
The Seahawks did not score over the final 14 minutes and were saddled with a loss after two of their best players, Mary Piper Martel and Haley Matousek, sat out the night due to injuries.
"I had to move people into different positions," coach Kathleen Marshall said. "And then my goalie, Shayra (Valdez), went down and fainted."
Valdez fell to the ground as the game ended, but she was able to walk off the field.
In the end, the Bobcats had prevailed in a game that saw six ties and six lead changes.
"We either do really good on defense and we can't put it together on attack," Tosky said. "For us to put it all together in one piece, and to actually look like a team, was just a really good feeling. I don't care if it was by one goal or five goals, it was just an awesome game."
Bluffton girls 12, Hilton Head High 11
Goals -- Hilton Head High: Katy Bautista 3, Kirsten Wartko 3, Jessica Morris 2, Abby Ogden 2, Tristyn Sheaffer 1; Bluffton -- Katie Sills 9, Madison Aust 2, Nicole Oliver 1
Hilton Head High boys 18, Bluffton 2
Ten different Seahawks scored as Hilton Head High emptied the bench in an 18-2 rout of the rival Bobcats.
Hilton Head High (4-4) built an 11-0 first-quarter lead before coasting over the final three periods. Four different Seahawks scored multiple times, led by Tucker Roberts' four-goal performance. Nate Jones and Will Urbin each netted a hat trick while Thomas Farrell found the back of the net twice.
Alex Matousek scored the first goal of the night just over two minutes into the game. The lead ballooned to 8-0 at the halfway point of the quarter, as Hilton Head High tallied its eighth consecutive victory in the series.
Bluffton (0-8) got its first goal of the night minutes before the half, as Alex Cochran found the back of the net to pull the Bobcats within 12. Killian Jardeleza added a goal of his own early in the third period.
Goals -- Hilton Head High: Tucker Roberts 4, Nate Jones 3, Will Urbin 3, Thomas Farrell 2, Alex Matousek 1, Robert Moody 1, Bentley Moore 1, Nick Crago 1, Harrison Moore 1, Mason Martel 1; Bluffton -- Alex Cochran 1, Killian Jardeleza 1