Chapin has been living on the edge in the Class 3A state girls soccer playoffs, but the third-ranked, Region 4 champion Eagles have been able to keep their wits about them.
The reward for such resiliency is a spot in the state title match Friday at 5 p.m. against three-time defending champion Hilton Head at River Bluff High.
Chapin (18-5) is 0-2 in state finals, losing to Bishop England in 2000 and 2004 when the program was in “I’ve thought since the beginning of the season that we had a chance to get to the state finals,” said Bob Taylor, who is in his fourth season as the Eagles’ coach. “We came into the playoffs battle-tested because we played such a tough schedule, so I felt good about our chances coming in.”
But no one in the Chapin camp expected what transpired in second- and fourth-round games against Upstate powers Greenville and Eastside. The Eagles needed golden-goal, 3-2 wins in both outings.
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Chapin avenged a first-round loss to Greenville in 2013 by rallying from a 2-0 halftime deficit to prevail on a sudden-death kick that came when a Greenville player headed the ball into her own goal off a throw-in by Eagle McKenzie Walpole.
The Eagles came back from a 1-0 deficit in regulation and a 1-0 deficit in overtime to stun two-time defending Upper State champion Eastside in Monday’s semifinal game. Again, the golden goal began with a throw in by Walpole. The toss was first flicked off the head of senior captain Sara Corning. Then, sophomore Haley Monts had two header tries before putting the ball over the line for the winner.
“I’m so proud of the way the team handled things when we got down in those two games,” said Corning, who has been team captain for three seasons. “It was an exciting way to win and get this far in the playoffs. We have a lot of seniors and we’ve felt all along that (2014) was going to be our year.
“It’s really cool because the program didn’t have a lot of respect when were first started playing on varsity, but we kept working and kept fighting, and we finally have our chance.”
Walpole, Corning, Jordan Dawsey and Shelby Green are the top offensive threats in Chapin’s balanced attack. The defense is anchored by junior keeper Paige Whitehurst.