The scenario was a familiar one for the South Aiken girls soccer team -- a long road trip to face a favored opponent with the season on the line.
By the end of the night, the result was familiar to Beaufort High, too. Too familiar, in fact.
For the second year in a row, the Eagles were bounced in the first round of the Class 4-A playoffs, as South Aiken star Emily Graves scored the tying goal in the waning moments of the first half and added the winner 11 minutes into the second half to give the Thoroughbreds a 2-1 victory Monday at Beaufort High.
It's the third consecutive year South Aiken has sent a Beaufort County team home earlier than expected -- the Thoroughbreds knocked out Hilton Head High en route to Class 3-A runner-up finishes each of the past two years.
"We have to have a challenge," South Aiken coach Jason Holt said. "I mean, we have to. We knew being a No. 4 seed coming in to a No. 1 seed -- our girls just want to step up. That's the bottom line. ... We just find a way to get it done every year. We'll keep riding that wave as long as it will go."
Despite allowing the Thoroughbreds (9-9-1) to control play for most of the first half, the Eagles took a 1-0 lead when Jylian DaMude scored on a strike from about 35 yards out in the 22nd minute -- the only shot on goal Beaufort High recorded in the first half.
The momentum shifted in stoppage time of the first half, when Graves pounced on a rebound and put it in after Beaufort High goalie Kayla King got tangled up with South Aiken's Sabrina Giancroce.
Graves, a junior who has committed to play at Furman after graduation, broke the tie with a beautiful goal early in the second half, dribbling past a defender from the left sideline and using her right foot to bury a shot in the top right corner.
The Eagles (12-5) had several chances after that, but they were unable to get a shot past South Aiken goalie Anna Corriero.
Unlike in a 6-0 loss to Lexington in last year's first round, though, Beaufort High coach Terry Rawlins was pleased with his team's ability to keep it close and give itself a shot at the end.
"The resiliency that this team showed -- they could have folded and gone away after the first goal was scored," Rawlins said. "But they came back in the second half and showed a lot of character."
Although still in search of their first playoff win under Rawlins, the fourth-year coach has seen his program reach heights that seemed impossible when he took over. A region championship was something he could hardly fathom four years ago, and the disappointment accompanying a first-round playoff defeat is a sign of how far the program has come.
"They are really torn right now, having lost like that, because they wanted to go farther," Rawlins said. "But I am satisfied. I am satisfied with the way we played, and I'm satisfied with the whole season.
"The future of Beaufort girls soccer is very bright."