High School Sports

Hilton Head High boys fight off Chapin, advance to Lower State soccer finals

Hilton Head Island High School boys soccer coach Wayne Quinlan has been carrying the folded piece of paper around in his pocket for nearly three weeks.

It's filled with names and notes, and on one side across the page, it lists the five players he would use, in order, should the Seahawks be involved in a game that came down to penalty kicks.

The fifth player on that list? Tyler Betts.

On Saturday night, that list came in handy, and Betts justified his name being on it when he hit the game-winning penalty kick to give Hilton Head Island a 2-1 win over Chapin.

The Seahawks (16-3) will host North Myrtle Beach on Tuesday night in the 3-A Lower State Championship. North Myrtle Beach upset Brookland-Cayce, 3-2.

Betts may not have been the most likely candidate for Quinlan's list.

Last season, in the third round of the 3-A playoffs against AC Flora, Betts missed a penalty kick during the game that would have been the game winner. Instead, the Seahawks lost, 2-1.

The senior defensive captain admitted that this was redemption.

"It feels good to put it away for a win," Betts said. "It would have been the same thing last year -- a game winner."

"This team has been blessed," Quinlan said. "They're not the most talented. They may not have been the most deserving tonight. But this team is going somewhere special because we're blessed. This is out of our control."

Chapin passed the ball crisply and controlled it well, and Hilton Head Island was pressed to keep up. The Eagles had seemingly countless opportunities deep in Seahawks territory.

But the Hilton Head Island defense and goalkeeper Mike Ritterbeck kept Chapin at bay.

"I never lost hope in our ability to defend," Quinlan said. "But (Chapin) is a very polished team, a group of well-schooled club players. Sometimes the ugliest games of the season occur in the playoffs."

While the game may have been ugly, in the eyes of the Seahawks, the play of Ritterbeck in goal was beautiful. He threw every save in the book at Chapin, batting shots away, covering balls in traffic and pushing balls over the crossbar.

"You know everything is going to be thrown at you in a game like this," Ritterbeck said. "You have to be ready for anything."

Quinlan was particularly impressed with Ritterbeck's work up high.

"He's been tremendous all through the playoffs and all season," Quinlan said, "but the best thing he did tonight was he had total control of the air. The high balls they sent his way didn't stand a chance."

After Ritterbeck and his Chapin counterpart, Jaime Garcia, kept their opponents off the board for 80 minutes of regulation, the first 10-minute overtime was a relative scoring feast.

In the third minute, Chris MacMurray controlled a pass in the center of the box from Robbie Iulo and put it in the middle of the net past Garcia.

"Robbie made a great pass and I took a touch and made a good shot," MacMurray said.

But just as soon as the Seahawks had the lead, it was gone again. Seven minutes into the overtime, Chapin's Walker Norris snuck one in past Ritterbeck to even it up.

And that's how it stayed until the penalty kicks, when things looked ominous early for Hilton Head Island.

After the Eagles' first try hit the post, Chapin's next two kicks found the net, while Garcia had stopped Hilton Head Island's first two tries.

But Ruben Romero went to the center of the net to cut it to 2-1, and after Ritterbeck stopped Chapin's next shot, MacMurray made it look easy putting the ball right in the center of the net to even it at 2.

When Ritterbeck stopped Chandler Corley's shot with a dive to his right, it set the stage for the final shot from Betts.

Unlike last year's disappointment, this time Betts guaranteed himself and his team another game at home in front of family and friends."

"This means everything," Betts said.