High School Sports

Hilton Head High tops AC Flora, moves on in boys soccer playoffs

As the Hilton Head Island High School boys soccer team slowly dispersed after Thursday night's 3-0 home victory in the Class 3-A playoffs against A.C. Flora, there was suddenly a buzz among the remaining players, parents and fans.

Someone -- nobody seemed to know who started it -- started the rumor that Chapin had upset defending Lower State champion Myrtle Beach and the Seahawks would have a home game Saturday night instead of a four-hour bus ride to the Grand Strand.

When Hilton Head High coach Wayne Quinlan finally got a text 10 minutes later from Chapin's coach confirming the win, it was the best news he'd gotten all day.

Well, the best news if you didn't include that playoff win.

The Seahawks (15-3) prevailed despite missing numerous scoring opportunities in the first half. Whenever they would have numbers or position, a key pass would be just a little off.

"We missed some early chances," Quinlan said. "Maybe it's just the pressure of the playoffs. But that first goal is so important."

Luckily for Hilton Head High, it was a Seahawk who scored it.

In the 21st minute, junior defender Robbie Iulo blasted a big shot from the top right of the penalty box past A.C. Flora keeper Adam Frantz. The goal was set up by a perfect pass through the middle from junior midfielder Blake Bishop.

"The first goal just sets the tone for the whole team," Iulo said. "The energy gets up, and everyone just plays harder. We're always a little nervous starting out, but when we settle down and that first goal goes in, we're good."

That goal would have been enough with the way the Seahawks' defense played. Senior goalkeeper Mike Ritterbeck recorded a shutout but only had to make four saves on the game. The Falcons just didn't have many opportunities.

"Incredible. You can't say enough about how they played," Quinlan said of his defenders. "They are always cutting angles and winning one-on-one battes. Every time. I can't remember the last time someone cut the ball through the middle of our defense and beat us."

Hilton Head High's second goal came in the 64th minute. A.C. Flora's Jordain Sutherland was called for a handball in the box. On the penalty kick, senior striker Ruben Romero put the ball into the right side of the net off the outstretched hands of a diving Frantz.

The Seahawks closed the scoring in the 76th minute when sophomore striker Francisco Gomez beat Frantz near the top right of the goalie box on a breakaway.

The only bad news of the night for Quinlan and the Seahawks came in the 46th minute when senior striker Bennett Murphy received his second yellow of the night and was sent off. His first card came after he got tangled up with Frantz seven minutes in. The second came when, upset with a call, he kicked the ball after the whistle.


GOALS -- Hilton Head Island High: Robbie Iulo (21st minute); Ruben Romero (64th); Francisco Gomez (76th).