High School Sports

Beaufort High boys stick with winning formula in 2nd round

A familiar pattern emerged Thursday at Eagle Field.

The Beaufort High School boys soccer team, which took its time dismantling White Knoll on Tuesday to open the Class 4-A playoffs, took a similar approach Thursday.

James Island, which Beaufort High rolled past during the regular season, started strong in the back. However, the Eagles kept the ball on the ground -- as coach Gabriel Nieves has stressed all season -- eventually wearing down the visitors.

After the first goal, Beaufort High piled on to win 5-0 and advance to the Lower State semifinals Saturday. The Eagles will play host to Lexington, winners over Stratford, for the right to play in the Lower State final.

"It was tough breaking them down," Beaufort High midfielder Ethan Konoza said. "But eventually, passing, we wore them down. We got the breakthrough and started opening up room."

Christian Faale scored his fourth and fifth goals of the postseason, getting the Eagles on the board off a cross from Hector Garcia-Lopez in the 27th minute. Andrew Settlemire scored with a 30-yard strike on a free kick, and Ben Carey had another highlight with a laser header off a Settlemire throw-in.

The Eagles have won their two playoff matches by a combined 11-0, but they raise an issue when the victories are described as easy. Calculated, might be the more preferred term.

Against White Knoll, the Eagles were held scoreless the first half before ripping off four goals in four minutes to start the next 40 minutes. Once Beaufort High gains control on the scoreboard, its style of play begins wearing on opposing players, Nieves said. He said keeping the ball on the ground and getting everyone touches while protecting a lead makes the other team restless.

He thought James Island's players grew frustrated and tried to take the Eagles out of the game mentally during the second half.

"We study," Nieves said. "We check what is going on first. We score the first and it's like we push the turbo and say, 'OK, let's go.' "

The Eagles have reached the third round for a second consecutive season. Last year, their run ended at Class 4-A power Irmo. The Yellow Jackets reside in the Upper State bracket this year.

And Beaufort High has the home draw. The team played Lexington during a preseason tournament to a 4-4 tie.

Nieves said the Wildcats are big, fast and skilled -- the level expected for this point in the postseason. He said the Eagles would continue to play as they have, keeping the ball out of the air and emphasizing corners and throw-ins during practice today.

"We already know they are a quality team," Konoza said. "We've just got to come out and play hard and hope things go our way."

Beaufort High 5, James Island 0

Christian Faale (B), 27th; Andrew Settlemire (B), 37th; Ben Carey (B), 47th; Ethan Konoza (B), 53rd; Faale (B), 65th.

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