High School Sports

New-look Seahawks hold off rival Bobcats in opener

Morgan Raffaele felt it was her turn to be a leader.

But as she quickly found out, it can be difficult to get a point across to 11 people -- the number of new faces on Hilton Head High's girls lacrosse roster -- especially from her cozy spot in front of the net.

So on Wednesday night, Raffaele chose to lead by example instead.

The Seahawks goalie made 15 saves to lead Hilton Head High to a 13-10 win against rival Bluffton High School as the teams kicked off the second season of sanctioned lacrosse in the state.

"I expect a lot more out of myself this year," said Raffaele, a junior. "I felt really good about the way things went tonight, especially the first half."

Raffaele's play was certainly the difference in the opening half.

The Seahawks built an 8-3 lead in a low-scoring first half, even though Bluffton outshot them 12-11. The Seahawks scored the first three goals -- one each from Elaine Natoli, Sammi Burns and Abby Ogden -- to help calm the nerves of a team that lacks varsity experience. Hilton Head High had 12 seniors graduate from last year's team.

"That really helped keep our spirits up," said Gabby Avent, who scored three goals. "We have a fairly new team, so we weren't really expecting much. Actually, I was expecting that we were going to lose. So this is exciting."

Instead, the Seahawks never trailed -- though Bluffton midfielder Gabbie Tosky did her best to bring the Bobcats back. Tosky scored five of her game-high six goals in the second half and twice scored late in the game to pull the Bobcats within two.

Avent's third goal with 2:07 remaining, however, sealed a Seahawks win.

"It was a hard-fought game by two crosstown rivals -- we just ran out of time," Bluffton coach Jen Landers said. "This was a great opportunity to see what our team is made of because (a rivalry) brings out the best in them."

The Bobcats have made changeover in their roster, as well, but Landers said she expects some new players to make an early impact nonetheless. Charlotte Loper, one of those players, scored her first career goal Wednesday night.

"They're brand new to the game, but the good thing is they're athletes," Landers said. "It's a hard sport, but they've come along so nicely that you would think they've been playing for quite some time. They're already major contributors to the team."

BLUFFTON (10): Gabbie Tosky 6, Megan McKinley 2, Charlotte Loper 1, Hayley Trimmer 1.

HILTON HEAD HIGH (13): Elaine Natoli 4, Gabby Avent 3, Carson Kendrick 2, Sammi Burns 2, Jess Morris 1, Abby Ogden 1.

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