Morgan Raffaele wasn't holding back.
The senior captain for the Hilton Head Island High School girls lacrosse team pulled her teammates close during the final timeout Wednesday against Bluffton High and urged -- implored, rather -- that they pick up their effort against the rival Bobcats.
The Seahawks listened.
After trailing from practically the outset, Hilton Head High rallied with four consecutive goals in the final five minutes to pull out a thrilling 14-12 win on senior night.
"We have to be more aggressive as a team," Raffaele recalled telling her squad. "Go for the ground balls harder. ... You guys have to work for the win."
Fellow senior captain Elaine Natoli brought the Seahawks within one with her fifth goal of the night before midfielder Carson Kendrick pulled the two teams into a stalemate moments later with a successful penalty shot. Natoli then put the Seahawks on top for good with a pair of goals within seven seconds of one another, lifting Hilton Head High to yet another comeback victory.
"We're the comeback kids," coach Meg Hendy said, smiling. "We've come back in almost every win we've had this year. We had to dig down deep."
Added Natoli, who finished with seven goals: "We started off rocky, but we finished really well. I was proud of our team. We won as a team."
It was Natoli who gave Hilton Head High its first speech of the afternoon, as the midfielder spent intermission encouraging her teammates after the Seahawks fell behind by as many as four midway through the first half.
"Elaine said, 'Guys, we have to step it up,' " Raffaele said. " 'We have to play as hard as we can. We can't lose to Bluffton.' "
The Seahawks now await their postseason destination, which likely will be determined Sunday. Hendy is optimistic Hilton Head High will host a first-round game and expects her team to once again play host to the rival Bobcats. The Seahawks swept the regular-season series with Bluffton after earning a 12-10 decision last month.
The Seahawks will, naturally, welcome them with open arms.
"They'll be ready," Natoli said. "They'll really want to beat us."
Hilton Head High girls 14, Bluffton 12
Bluffton -- Goals: Katie Sills 3, Haley Dwyer 3, Charly Tatro 3, Gabby Ciavolino 2, Megan McKinley 1.
Hilton Head High -- Goals: Elaine Natoli 7, Haley Matousek 3, Carson Kendrick 2, Abby Ogden 1, Jenna Sheeran 1.
Hilton Head High boys 19, Bluffton 3
Joe Monmonier's Hilton Head High boys lacrosse team had just routed rival Bluffton by 16. And yet, the Seahawks' head coach was almost disapointed.
"Tonight's been typical with the Bluffton-Hilton Head game the past few years," he said. "We just know what's going to happen almost before the game. It's unfortunate, because I really like this rivalry."
A goal by senior Nick Bautista 25 seconds into the game set the tone for the Seahawks, who cruised to a 19-3 victory. Hilton Head High (7-4) swept the season series with Bluffton (0-10) by a combined score of 42-7.
"When I first got down here, it was a really, really big rivalry and it was a close game," Monmonier said. " ... The rivalry has fallen off a little bit lately."
Bautista finished with six goals and three assists while sophomore Nate Jones added six scores of his own.
"I didn't get to wrestle against them, so every time we play them I like to run up the score to make up for it, kind of," Bautista said.
The Seahawks -- who travel to Socastee on Saturday -- won their eighth straight game over Bluffton according to Monmonier.
Bluffton -- Goals: Adam Hogan 1, Chris Ratzel 1, Justin Smith 1
Hilton Head High -- Goals: Nick Bautista 6, Nate Jones 6, Thomas Farrell 3, Nick Beach 1, James Crick 1, Tucker Roberts 1, Justin Shaw 1