If Saturday evening's game between Bluffton and Beaufort High is an indication of what is in store when the Bobcats and Eagles take the soccer field against each other this season, the two regular-season matchups between the Region 8-AAAA rivals should be barnburners.
Bluffton used a late goal from Ken Mayo on a direct kick to defeat Beaufort High, 2-1, and win the second edition of the Beaufort Cup at Hilton Head Island High School.
The game started sluggishly, but by the time Beaufort High committed a foul about 25 yards out with the game tied at 1 and less than 10 minutes remaining, the contest had heated up.
After some back and forth with the official about how close the Beaufort High defenders were, Mayo lined up to take the kick for Bluffton (3-0).
"He's a guy who's always in my ear, 'Coach, let me take the kicks, let me take the kicks, I want the kicks,' " Bluffton coach Joshua Fox said. "Well, he got his chance tonight and showed me why."
Mayo's kick, a bullet, found its way into the top right corner of the goal, and the Bobcats' senior defender celebrated by sprinting back down to the other end of the field.
"I saw my opening on the right side and I took it," Mayo said. "It's been my dream to take a free kick and this was my first one."
After Bluffton took the lead, things began to deteriorate. An already tense game very nearly got away from the officials when a tussle broke out between two players at the edge of the Beaufort High penalty box.
"It's a rivalry game," Fox said. "They're our No. 1 rival in the region, they're right across the street from us, so it's going to happen."
Amazingly, there were no cards issued.
Fox is pleased with where his Bluffton squad is at. On top of the perfect start in the tournament, the Bobcats also won all three of their scrimmages before the season.
"We had a great offseason," Fox said. "This group has come together quicker than any group I've ever coached because they've been playing together so much. We're in a good place right now. This was right where we wanted to be, holding this cup and sitting here undefeated."
Bluffton drew first blood in the 12th minute when Omar Govea scored to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead.
Beaufort High (2-1) missed a good chance to tie in the 31st minute when Hector Garcia had a look at an open shot from about 20 feet away. But Garcia mis-kicked the ball, sending it up into the air, and the Eagles would trail at the half.
Garcia made up for his mistake early in the second half, though, burying a shot from the middle of the box in the 52nd minute to tie the score.
But that was all the Bobcats defense would allow.
The Eagles however, will get two more shots at the Bobcats during the regular season.
"Can't wait for it," Fox said. "They've been circled on our calendar since last year."
Third place -- Hilton Head Island 3, Beaufort Academy 0: The Seahawks, led by two goals by Garvin Richards, blanked the Eagles (1-2). Hilton Head (2-1), which led 2-0 at the half, also got a goal from Freisser Queseda. The Seahawks out-shot the Eagles 14 to 2.
Fifth place -- Hilton Head Prep 5, Whale Branch 0: Teron Daley scored twice and tallied two assists to lead the Dolphins, who led 2-0 at the half. Lucas McMIllan, Andrew Spencer and Ryan Henderson added goals for Prep (1-2), while Henderson, Spencer and Will Peterkin each had an assist. The Warriors fall to 0-3.