High School Sports

HHH boys believe fate on their side in soccer playoffs

The Hilton Head Island High boys soccer team is finding it difficult to doubt itself these days. That's easy to understand after the way the Seahawks have seemingly found every way imaginable to win in recent weeks.

"I told them that I thought it was obvious that this team has been blessed and that there's something going on here that's bigger than all of us," Seahawks coach Wayne Quinlan said. "Every one of their heads was nodding up and down. I think that gives us confidence."

Whether it be in the waning moments of regulation, overtime or via penalty kicks, the Seahawks continue to find their way into the next round of the Class 3-A playoffs. They will try to resume that streak at home tonight against North Myrtle Beach, where a win would send Hilton Head High to the state championship game for the first time.

"It's hard to say that we have the best team in 3-A in South Carolina right now," Quinlan said. "But we're one of the four teams that's left playing. It's hard to say that at the beginning of the year we were even going to be any good after we lost our first three games.

"But something happened in terms of our beliefs that's turned this team around."

North Myrtle Beach is led by senior Ian Fellenz, who scored a pair of goals in the Chiefs' upset of Brookland-Cayce on Saturday. The midfielder was recently named to the Class 3-A all-state team and will also participate in the North-South Soccer Classic.

With his help, the Chiefs have been able to stay alive despite playing on the road in each one of their playoff games. That run started with a 4-0 triumph over Battery Creek on May 8.

"They have no fear of the road, apparently, because they've beaten some good teams," Quinlan said. "That was an impressive win against Brookland-Cayce. In my opinion, Brookland-Cayce is probably the hardest place in South Carolina to play."

But the Seahawks have a pair of postseason winners on their own side, as junior midfielder Chris MacMurray and senior Ruben Romero joined Fellenz on the Class 3-A all-state team. Romero also earned a spot on the South's roster in the Soccer Classic.

Quinlan believes that Romero is the first attacking player that the Seahawks have ever had selected to the all-state team.

"That's a credit to the hard work that the kids put in and the passion they put into the game," Quinlan said.

The belief was Hilton Head High would host through the first two rounds before heading on the road in an attempt to keep its season alive.

But things got wacky.

Chapin upset Myrtle Beach in the second round, giving the Seahawks a home game in the Lower State semis. And after the Eagles were eliminated in penalty kicks by Hilton Head High last Saturday, the Seahawks learned North Myrtle Beach had toppled the top-seeded Bearcats in Columbia, where Hilton Head High would have traveled for the Lower State final.

Just like the Seahawks drew it up.

"All these things are falling into place for us," Quinlan said. "I just can't believe that it's by accident."