In a rivalry match during which both teams struggled find a rhythm, a few offensive bursts made all the difference.
The Hilton Head Prep boys soccer team secured an unbeaten record in region play with a 3-0 win over Hilton Head Christian Academy on Tuesday evening.
The Dolphins got goals from freshman midfielder Mac Orie, senior forward Teron Daley and junior defender Keylan Hanna to cap off a performance that saw the home team retain most of the possession.
"In the second half we started taking more chances," Prep head coach Matt Dakolios said. "The first half was all about emotions. That team plays so hard, really well coached. The second half was about us playing our game better than we did in the first half."
The first half was marked by both teams' struggles with the final ball. Strings of passes and creative movement sputtered out with more than a few careless deliveries. Prep worked the edges of the field, consistently creating space down the left as eighth-grader Garrett Spencer's speed caused problems for the Eagles.
It was a scuffle in the box that eventually led to the game's first successful strike, when Orie pounced on a loose ball and slotted a left-footed shot home. Senior Andrew Spencer nearly doubled the Dolphins' lead with a powerful shot from distance, only to see that effort turned away with an acrobatic save by Eagles sophomore goalkeeper Evan Hill.
John Ross Moise, Christian's standout senior midfielder, did his best to break up play in the center of the field, hustling into several tackles. But he could do nothing to counter the speed and creativity of Daley, who increased the advantage with just over half an hour to play. Daley stopped a clearance, cut through a few tackles and speared a shot into the bottom right corner of the net.
Hanna added a third with just over 13 minutes to play.
The performance was a comprehensive example of why Prep managed to make it though region play unbeaten.
"That was one of our goals, to win the region," Dakolios said. "It's part of our bigger goal of making a run in the playoffs."
The Eagles created a few chances, including one scramble that saw the ball bounce off the crossbar with 15 minutes to go in the first half. Senior forward Zach McCutchen saw his shot thwarted by the post late in the second half. Those two chances were as close as Christian would come to finding a goal.
"I'm ecstatic with my boys, the way that they play," Eagles coach Dylan Curtis said. "You take away a bit of hurt, because it's difficult, as I spend so much time with these boys. You also look forward."