In time, the story of Brookland-Cayce’s SCHSL 3A championship bid against Eastside will focus on the Bearcats’ fight to force overtime. But following the Bearcats’ 3-2 loss to the undefeated Eagles at River Bluff on Saturday, it was hard for coach Kevin Heise to overlook his team’s missed opportunities.
“Just not enough polish to win, to put the championship in the goal, just not enough there,” B-C coach Kevin Heise said.
With less than 90 seconds to play in the second overtime, Victor Ramirez booted in the game-winner off a rebound from Connor Donohue’s direct kick in the 99th minute.
“We battled back twice in the game to get level. You just ask your guys to keep digging and reaching, and we didn’t get it done, simple as that,” Heise said.
Brookland-Cayce (24-4-1) was undaunted in the face of the state’s No. 1 rated team. The Bearcats made their first attack inside three minutes and refused to let Eastside control the pace and direction of play.
The Bearcats had a chance to take the lead in the 10th minute when the Eastside keeper grabbed the ball outside of the keeper’s box and the Bearcats were awarded a direct kick. But David Koprowski’s shot would not bend, and it sailed out of bounds.
Eastside also missed opportunities on set plays, and junior goalkeeper Edwin Taylor made a few saves to keep the Eagles off the board in the first 20 minutes. But in the 23rd minute, Ray Almasri got an angle on the advancing Taylor and tucked a goal into the back of the net from 18 yards out for a 1-0 halftime lead.
Brookland-Cayce came out fast in the second half, and their perseverance paid off in the 50th minute as Joel Salcedo lofted a 30-foot shot into the goal, off an assist from Dominik Byars, to tie the game. Donohue provided Eastside’s answer with a crossing goal seven minutes later.
But the Bearcats again fought back.
With 64:42 gone, senior captain Aaron Davis headed in the tying goal off a throw-in assist from Byars.
“I’m so happy for him. You will never find a guy with more heart, more love for the game, more commitment to this program than Aaron Davis,” Heise said.
After Davis’ goal, the Bearcats remained on the attack but could not find a game-winner.
The Bearcats, who beat James Island 2-1 in overtime to claim the Lower State title, went into the extra time with confidence.
“I thought we had a little bit of the momentum back,” Heise said. “They were battling and that’s all you can ask is battle.”