High School Sports

Seahawks deny Bobcats, wrap up perfect region schedule

The Hilton Head High boys soccer team locked up the top seed from Region 7-AAA last week --so technically, its matchup Tuesday with region foe Bluffton High School had no impact on next week's Class 3-A playoffs.

Just don't try telling that to the Seahawks, who for the past two years have had to share their region title celebration with the Bobcats and await tiebreakers to decide their playoff fate.

They own it themselves in 2011.

Hilton Head High defeated Bluffton 2-1 on Tuesday night, wrapping up an undefeated region season and preventing the Bobcats from earning a share of the league championship. The Seahawks will take a No. 1 seed into next week's postseason, while the Bobcats will have a No. 2 seed and also host a first-round playoff game.

The rival schools tied for the league's title each of the last two seasons.

"It meant everything to these kids," Seahawks coach Wayne Quinlan said. "There's no diminishing that."

They played like it. Hilton Head High dominated ball possession, especially in the first half, and outshot its county rivals 17-3 -- including 12-1 over the first 40 minutes.

The Seahawks (14-5-1) capitalized in extra time of the first half, when Manuel Medina lofted a ball through traffic and past Bluffton keeper Chris Sullivan to break a scoreless tie.

The goal couldn't have come at a better time for the Seahawks, who lost goalkeeper Mike Ritterbeck to a leg injury minutes earlier. Quinlan said late Tuesday night that X-rays showed Ritterbeck has a broken leg that may require surgery.

"The first goal was so important for us because we immediately got a chance after Mike goes out of the game," Quinlan said. "With that goal, we still felt OK about our chances because we played incredibly well defensively."

They added to the cushion 13 minutes into the second half -- and they earned it with effort.

Edwin Hernandez outran a pair of Bluffton defenders down the right sideline and crossed a low pass to Robbie Iulo, who one-touched a laser into the back of the net. Iulo said the team practices the play every day, but he admitted it rarely runs so well.

"That was perfect," Iulo said. "We don't get too many to go like that."

The Bobcats (8-7, 6-2 Region 7-AAA) increased their intensity trailing 2-0 and narrowed the margin to 2-1 on Dennis Nunez's goal in the 57th minute, but the Seahawks' stifling defense kept Bluffton without a shot on net over the remainder of the night.

Seahawks backup goalie Conner Goulet made one save in Ritterbeck's absence. Sullivan made six saves for the Bobcats.

"I feel like we came out strong for the second half," Bobcats coach Josh Fox said. "... In the first half, though, guys were playing hard, but we weren't putting it together. And it takes two halves to win these games against Hilton Head (High)."