As the Beaufort High School girls soccer team celebrated a rare playoff victory Monday, Eagles coach Terry Rawlins delivered a short scouting report on his team's next opponent, James Island.
"They have a striker who is out of this world," he said.
The characterization of James Island senior Taylor Sanders might have been hyperbolic, but the Eagles knew who to mark Wednesday. They had seen Sanders in past seasons.
A player of that caliber only needs one opening, Rawlins said. Sanders found hers in the 33rd minute, losing her mark and splitting defenders before delivering a short, sure kick.
The goal held up after a long weather delay at halftime and James Island advanced to the third round of the Class 4-A playoffs with a 1-0 victory at Beaufort Middle School.
The temporary home of Eagles soccer took a pounding as rain settled in during the first half. Officials and coaches examined the field and identified potential problem areas before play resumed.
James Island players stayed loose during the delay, playing the card game Uno and a game called Pterodactyl. Rawlins tried to instill urgency in the Eagles before the second half.
"It's a 40-minute season," he told them. "This is what it comes down to."
The Eagles created more opportunities on offense during the final 40 minutes, but couldn't finish off an equalizer. A free kick from 30 yards cleared the crossbar. Molly Murphy's shot from straightaway 25 yards was grabbed by James Island keeper Hailey Cooksey. Another shot from inside the 18-yard box was hooked wide and an attempt off a run up the right side was knocked down.
"We have a disciplined group of defenders," Trojans coach Melissa Frasier said. "They get the job done. They held their seams tight tonight and didn't give Beaufort many looks at our goal."
Despite the disappointing finish, Rawlins praised his group. The Eagles finished Region 8-AAAA play undefeated and won what Rawlins believes is the program's first playoff game.
The Eagles graduate four seniors, including goalkeeper Carson Moore, starting midfielder Jylian Damude and defender Grayson Lambert. But a young core returns.
"We have something we're building here," Rawlins said.
The Trojans travel to West Ashley on Friday in the third round with what is also a young team. But one of her two senior starters is Sanders, who will play soccer on scholarship at Limestone College next year.
The Eagles marked Sanders with sophomore Austen Stoddard and locked her down for much of the match. Rawlins knew what to expect from the Trojans' standout. His team had dropped the past three meetings with James Island, with the Eagles' most recent victory coming in March 2009, Sanders' freshman season.