Just when it looked like the Hilton Head Island High School girls soccer team would be in for a nail-biter, the team's go-to sister act struck again.
The three-time defending state champions and No. 1-ranked team in Class 3-A got a goal each from midfielders Ashley and Amanda Green on the way to a convincing 3-0 win over No. 6 James Island on Friday night.
Playing in front of their home crowd, the Seahawks (13-2, 8-0 Region 8-AAA) showed that they will once again be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time, with their smooth, up-tempo offensive style causing myriad problems for the opposition.
"It's a fun way to play," head coach Ernie Suozzi said. "It's really confusing for the other team because they don't know where the runs are coming from. As long as we have cover, shape and balance on the field, I don't care where they run."
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Hilton Head Island dominated most of the first half, using some incisive passing to break down the Trojan defense. Overlapping runs on the wings produced open space in the middle of the field for Ashley and Amanda Green. The latter exploited those gaps to twice charge into the penalty area, only to be foiled when one shot was blocked and another went over the bar.
While the Seahawks maintained possession and control, it was a set piece that ended up breaking the deadlock. Freshman Lexi Lainhart turned on the afterburners to speed down the left wing, cutting toward the box before the ball was put out for a corner kick. Freshman Estelle Murphy then skied for a pinpoint header into the top right corner of the goal to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
"I'll be honest with you: I don't waste a lot of time on corners," Suozzi said. "She's done it all year. As a freshman she's so heady -- no pun intended."
With the Trojans doing their best to regain a foothold, the Seahawks turned up the pressure in the closing minutes of the first half. Freshman Esther Anderson had a clear chance to double Hilton Head's lead at the stroke of halftime, and would have done so if not for a reflexive save by James Island goalkeeper Sara Wright.
The second half brought much of the same, though the Seahawks had to quell a good spell of play by the Trojans, who finally seemed to find some rhythm. For about 10 minutes, James Island pressed more effectively and shut down some of the passing lanes that had opened up in the game's first half.
But the Green sisters struck in quick succession. The second goal was the product of hustle and a ruthless counterattack, punctuated by a pinpoint finish from Amanda Green. Just two minutes later, it was Ashley's turn to hit the back of the net, slotting home a pass from her twin sister.
It's the kind of play that Suozzi has come to expect from his midfield stars.
"They work," Suozzi said. "These girls just work and work and work. They do their own thing and it's allowing them to be free with what they do. I love that freedom to express what they like to do. It's supposedly a beautiful sport, and when they watch them play, it is."