High School Sports

Beaufort High boys clinch region crown with shootout win over Summerville

Had it been another situation, a different team or a less important point in the season, Gabriel Nieves might have been worried.

But after the Beaufort High School boys soccer team fell behind Summerville on Thursday, the Eagles coach remained calm.

"I didn't get frustrated, because I know the team I have," he said. "And I knew they were going to try to come back."

The Eagles did, forcing overtime on a late penalty kick and winning, 3-2, in a penalty-kick shootout to win the Region 8-AAAA title. The region title was Beaufort High's fourth in five seasons and came after the Eagles battled back from a 2-0 deficit at the half.

Beaufort High (15-2, 6-0 Region 8-AAAA) plays two more region matches next week before preparing for the Class 4-A playoffs.

Stormy weather threatened Thursday's game. With other area games postponed, the chances of finishing the game at Eagle Field seemed thin after lightning delayed the start. And as Summerville entered the locker room up two goals at the half, an official reminded Nieves that a single lightning strike would cease the game, with the Green Wave declared winners. Nieves said he heard Summerville fans during the first half pleading with the referee to call the game, that they had seen lightning.

But a final outcome requires a completed half. And despite ominous skies the final 40 minutes, the only electricity in the second half was on the field.

Eagles senior Ethan Konoza cleaned up a rebound off a throw-in in the 43rd minute to put Beaufort High on the board. And later, after failing to finish numerous chances, Beaufort High received the break it needed with a foul in the box just before stoppage time.

Konoza converted the penalty kick to send the match to overtime. After two scoreless periods, the Eagles did not miss a penalty kick, forming a mob in the far right corner of the field after Konoza delivered the deciding blow.

Eagles keeper Nick Manos made a diving stop on Summerville's first attempt in what would be the deciding play.

"It's a credit to our team for having mental strength," said Konoza, a North-South All-Star selection who will join teammate Andrew Settlemire at Erskine College in the fall. "That's what it's all about."

The Eagles' knew from the teams' first meeting to expect a fight. Beaufort High won earlier this month at Summerville, 1-0 in a shootout. Konoza injured his ankle early in the second half of that game. He has since recovered with the help of exercises prescribed by his father, a physical therapist.

And on Thursday, Konoza converted each of his team's most important kicks.

On the topic of penalty kicks like the one Konoza faced near the end of regulation, Nieves said the decision is primarily left to the players. Konoza, Settlemire and fellow senior Ben Carey are each authorized to take the shot, depending on the mood on the field and how tired each feels.

Konoza took advantage of his turn.

"You have to hit it clean, just hit the target and make the goalie work," he said. "And if the keeper makes the save, he makes the save. Luckily, all of ours went in."

Beaufort High 3, Summerville 2 (penalty kicks)

Chris Gregor (S), 7th; Justin Moree (S), 10th; Ethan Konoza (Beau.), 43rd; Konoza (Beau.), 76th.

Penalty kicks: Beaufort High 4 (Andrew Settlemire, Christian Faale, Parker Essary, Konoza), Summerville 3 (Gregor, Cormac O'Connor, Tyler Herring).