The rematch is set. Hilton Head Island High's third consecutive state championship in girls soccer awaits.
The Seahawks will have to get through last year's runner-up, Eastside, to wear the crown once again. Hilton Head High eeked by the Eagles 1-0 last year on the strength of Faith Lifer's goal in the 28th minute, but had ample shots at a wider margin were it not for goal keeper Maylyn Parsons, who registered nine saves in the defeat.
Parsons is back for a second round, and Seahawks coach Ernie Suozzi is expecting much of the same story. He'll find out for sure when the two teams square off in the Class 3-A final Friday at 5 p.m. at Gilbert High just outside Columbia.
"I expect them to be tough," Suozzi said. "Their goalie is going to keep them in every game. She's outstanding. We've just got to come back and execute."
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Lifer recalls the struggles the Seahawks encountered against the pesky Eagles -- "We had a few (shots), for sure," she said -- but remembers the important stuff far more.
"I remember that we were just passing it around pretty decent after we got the hang of it," she said. "I know that Bridgette (Noonan) gave me a great ball and I took advantage of it."
The Seahawks (22-3) have been ranked atop the Class 3-A poll all season long, with just two losses against in-state opponents, both of which were Class 4-A teams. Eastside (23-2-1) has nipped at their heels all year, though, and enters the season finale ranked right behind at No. 2.
One of its two losses came in a 1-0 setback to J.L. Mann, which lost to the Seahawks 2-0 in the season opener.
"If we execute, play our passing game and stuff like that, we should be OK," Suozzi said. "We just need to put a couple more in on (Parsons) this year and not keep them hanging around."
Hilton Head High has won 14 consecutive playoff games dating back to a 2010 defeat in the Lower State championship, and the Seahawks have done so in convincing fashion. They've outscored their opponents 78-6 in that span, including a dominating 24-0 stretch during this latest postseason run.
Freshman Claudia Murphy has been the surprise for the Seahawks, as the first-year player has found her niche on a field full of veterans, seven of which will play at the college level next season. Murphy has three goals and two assists in Hilton Head High's last two postseason wins, victories over highly ranked teams Brookland-Cayce and Swansea.
"I like being goal hungry out there," she said.
Her Seahawks teammates are equally hungry for a state championship. A win would be the fourth in six years for the Hilton Head High program.
Will nerves be a factor early on? Without a doubt, Murphy said.
"Definitely nervous, but I don't think it's going to get to (us)," she said. "You've just got to play the game and forget about everything else."
Girls soccer Class 3-A state championship
Who: Hilton Head High (22-3) vs. Eastside (23-2-1)
Where: Leonard Price Field, Gilbert High School
When: 5 p.m. Friday
TV: Fans can view the game online at www.schsl.playonsports.com