High School Sports

Hilton Head High soccer teams trying to bring two state titles back to island

Hilton Head Island High's Emily Crick gets away a kick before Brookland-Cayce's Sarah Laney arrives during their Class 3A Lower State championship game Monday.
Hilton Head Island High's Emily Crick gets away a kick before Brookland-Cayce's Sarah Laney arrives during their Class 3A Lower State championship game Monday.

After the Hilton Head Island High School boys soccer team put the finishing touches on its first Lower State championship Tuesday night, coach Wayne Quinlan quickly reached out to colleagues in search of information on Fort Mill, the Seahawks' title game opponent.

The responses he got weren't exactly encouraging.

"Phrases you don't like to hear," he said.

The Seahawks' coach said his soccer cohorts expressed their opinions that the Yellow Jackets were arguably "the best team in 3-A all year long." That certainly looked to be the case in the Upper State final, where Fort Mill -- the state's top-ranked team at 24-3 -- sealed its first trip to the state title with a 4-2 triumph over Eastside, last season's state champion.

"I'm hearing some pretty troubling things," Quinlan said. " ... No weaknesses, strong everywhere."

Don't be fooled, though. Quinlan knows his team has gotten to this point for a reason. He pointed to the final 40 minutes against North Myrtle Beach, where the Seahawks (17-3) played some of their best soccer of the season.

"I keep playing back to the second half," Quinlan said. "We can beat a lot of people the way we played. We moved the ball around fast, got it forward and got chances. In the back we just defended so well."

Hilton Head High will travel to Columbia today in preparation for Saturday's clash, which is set for 3:30 p.m. in Memorial Stadium. The Seahawks will practice -- likely at either USC or Cardinal Newman -- before heading over to watch the Hilton Head High girls, who will take on Eastside at 5 p.m. in their state championship match.

Both games will stream live on www.schsl.tv while replays can be seen on Time Warner Cable On Demand (channel 199 or 1047) about a week from now.

The Hilton Head High girls, the state's No. 1-ranked team at 24-2, are gunning for their second consecutive state championship.

"Hopefully we'll win the game and the girls will be there for (the boys) on Saturday for support," coach Ernie Suozzi said.

Suozzi admitted to not knowing much about Eastside, which edged Greenville in penalty kicks Tuesday night for a berth in the championship match. He probably doesn't need to know much about the Eagles (19-7) given how his own team is playing.

"We're executing things so good that other teams are going to have to change their game plan to fit us," he said. "When we're on, we're tough. If we just don't make the mental mistakes, I think everything else will shake out and take care of itself."

Of the 24 wins Hilton Head High has compiled to date, 17 have been by way of shutout. The Seahawks -- who have given up only 13 goals all season -- have outscored their four playoff opponents 25-3, which included road victories over St. James and Brookland-Cayce.

The Seahawks may not need much of a scouting report on Eastside if those numbers are any indication.

"You try to find out some little stuff here and there about teams, but going forward, we work so hard on doing the things that we need to do," Suozzi said.

He knows anything less than a repeat performance of last season's title game will be a disappointment. That's why he's optimistic about picking up one more trophy this year.

And afterward, he plans on sticking around to watch Hilton Head High try to bring home another.

"It says a ton about the school for us getting two teams in there," he said. "I just think it's awesome. The guys and girls programs -- that says a lot. A small school, too."