Down a goal going into halftime, Battery Creek head coach John Perry said he barely recognized his team.
Nothing that a spirited pep talk couldn't cure. In a battle of the Dolphins at Hilton Head Prep, the visiting team seized a man advantage and rallied to a 5-2 win in a non-region boys soccer match Thursday night.
"We had a little motivational speech at halftime," Perry said. "They stepped up, took the challenge, and they're running with it."
The game was an occasionally hot-tempered affair, marked by physical play and plenty of controversy. Prep's Ryan Henderson was sent off for an elbow midway through the second half, and Battery Creek's Edgar Moreno converted a penalty -- both decisions drew the ire of Prep coach Matt Dakolios -- for a 3-2 lead.
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The game started well enough for the home team, with Prep's attack accounting for two goals within the first 20 minutes. First to strike was freshman forward Waddy Brooks, putting a neat finish into the net 12 minutes in. That was followed up by a nice effort from senior midfielder Will Peterkin. But Prep would do no more damage, as Battery Creek slowly exerted control over the game.
"Two teams that played hard," Dakolios said. "It just wasn't our night. Whether it was us or something else, everything just didn't go for us. Sometimes that happens in soccer."
The rally began with a penalty conversion from Moreno, who sent goalkeeper Robert Clark the wrong way with a confident finish. After the impassioned halftime prompting, the visitors coolly dispatched a series of opportunities, piecing together passing moves that took advantage of their numerical superiority. Jonathan Saullo tied the game at 2-2 less than five minutes into the second half. Kale Slade added a pair of goals for Battery Creek.
Dakolios said his team has to look forward now, with a region contest up next. Prep plays Beaufort Academy on April 22 following spring break.
"The next one's a big one for us," Dakolios said.
Ashley Hall 2, Hilton Head Prep girls 1
A late goal from Catherine Sheehan was not enough for the Hilton Head Prep girls soccer team, which allowed a second goal with two minutes remaining to fall to visiting Ashley Hall.
A scoreless contest for much of the afternoon, a defensive breakdown with 15 minutes to go gave the Panthers a lead. A flurry of chances finally paid off when Sheehan slammed it home from close range to knot things at one apiece before the Panthers converted their second. Despite the defeat, Prep coach Risa McMillan was proud of her team's ability to fight back.
"I thought it was our best game all season," McMillan said. "To have a good, tight game, it's a good growing experience for them."
The Dolphins exploited their speed on the flanks, sending long balls down either side of the field in an attempt to unlock the defense. Ultimately, a number of chances went wide, and the home side's creativity was unrewarded. They were kept in the game by some outstanding saves from sophomore goalkeeper Kate Herman.
"She is just one of those fearless fighters," McMillan said.