High School Sports

Goulet, defense help Hilton Head High boys move on

Will McCarty avoided the celebration, even though it involved his Hilton Head High teammates. He watched as they rushed the field, some forming a circle to jump up and down as one unit.

Still, he turned away. He had a message to deliver to teammate Conner Goulet at the reverse end of the field.

"That's all you," McCarty said as he hugged Goulet. "You saved us."

In the biggest game of his young career, Goulet couldn't have played any larger.

The Seahawks goalie led Hilton Head High into the third round of the Class 3-A playoffs with a 1-0 shutout of Socastee on Thursday night. The Seahawks will host A.C. Flora on Saturday with a trip to the Lower State championship on the line.

Tyler Betts provided the match's lone goal, which came on a penalty kick in the sixth minute. Goulet and a stingy defensive effort made that stand for the final 74 minutes. He made seven saves, as the defense withstood a flurry of first-half shots from Socastee (16-5), the state's fourth-ranked team.

"I wouldn't have taken any bet that that goal would stand up," Seahawks coach Wayne Quinlan said. "We just won that on pure guts, and that's a credit to how hard we defended."

Goulet said he was able to fight off the butterflies before the match began. He didn't have much time to fend them off once it started.

The Braves had three quality scoring chances immediately after falling behind, but they came up empty on each one. Socastee coach Memo Suarez said his team rushed its opportunities and seemed to panic after Betts' goal.

Making just his second start of the season for injured starter Mike Ritterbeck -- who coached his young teammate from the sidelines on crutches -- Goulet turned aside all five shots he faced in the first half. He credited the defense after the game.

"Our back five are the best in the state," Goulet said. "They do the work; I just pick up the pieces. They eased me into it, and I wasn't nervous back there at all."

The Seahawks (16-5-1) used Betts to mark Socastee's top playmaker, Matt Taylor, which kept the Braves from playing their usual style, Suarez said.

Quinlan nearly made an even bigger adjustment with his defense earlier in the day. The Seahawks coach admitted he thought about starting Cesar Bazan in goal, but he talked to some of the team's captains, who ensured him Goulet was the right choice.

"They told me their confidence was in Conner," Quinlan said. "And mine sure is now."

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