Hector Garcia and his Beaufort High School soccer teammates did not expect the pressure on Tuesday.
Early in a preseason match with Beaufort Academy, the smaller school was smothering the much deeper Beaufort High team. Only when Beaufort High came out for the second half committed to moving the ball did it pull away, defeating Beaufort Academy 4-0 on the second day of the Beaufort Cup.
“We weren’t letting the ball go too easy,” said Garcia, who scored two goals. “We limited ourselves to three touches at least per person (the second half). We made it work.”
Beaufort High eventually wore down a Beaufort Academy team playing its first match and with many players from the basketball team gaining their legs. The bigger school finished with 13 shots on goal to seven for Beaufort Academy.
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But Beaufort High led only 1-0 at halftime on newcomer Jack Lesenne’s penalty kick in the fourth minute. The rest of the half it spent frustrated by a Beaufort Academy team which lost seven starters from last season, including leading-scorer Conner Akers.
The final 40 minutes, the public school Eagles’ utilized their passing. Coach Terry Rawlins, in his first year coaching the Beaufort High boys after having coached the girls, believes he inherited a technically sound team.
He was pleased with Beaufort High’s performance this past weekend at a tournament at James Island, where Beaufort High tied power Porter-Gaud.
Beaufort High’s five seniors — Garcia, David Seguin, Pedro Jaramillo, Brandon Videtto and James Fletcher — already have assumed leadership roles, Rawlins said. And Garcia believes the newcomers, including the sophomore Lesenne and Ryan Muniz and Jack Gambla, will play key roles in Beaufort High’s quest for the Region 8-AAAA title.
Bluffton High School should present the stiffest test, Garcia said. The teams play at 5 p.m. Saturday in the tournament final at Hilton Head Island High School.
“We know what they’ve got,” he said. “We know what they can do. We just have to go out there and play our game.”
Beaufort Academy coach Bill Dalton, bundled against the mid-40s temperature Tuesday night, said he was pleased with his team’s effort. He pointed to a lack of stamina in the three goals allowed during the second half and the inexperience throughout his lineup.
Akers missed much of the 2013 season with a broken leg but still provided the bulk of the scoring. To replace him, Dalton will need help from returners George Sanford, Drummond Koppernaes and Jack Olsson.
Reyn Robinson, who served as the Beaufort Academy keeper last year, has moved into the field. And Ashton Guest saw his first serious varsity action in the net on Tuesday. He made three saves to match Beaufort High’s Brooks Wilson.
Dalton said facing a team of Beaufort High’s size this early should help Beaufort Academy into its SCISAA schedule.
“They definitely have a higher level of preparation and fitness than we have right now,” Dalton said. “It would have been nice to get a couple of goals. I think we created enough chances in the first half but couldn’t finish them off.”