High School Sports

STATE CHAMPS: Hilton Head High girls take soccer crown again

COLUMBIA -- Ernie Suozzi is starting to run out of goals to set for the Hilton Head Island High School girls soccer team.

"We've set some lofty ones," the Seahawks coach said. "I'm trying to think of what else we could possibly do.

"A three-peat would be nice."

Hilton Head High didn't back away from any preseason hype in 2012 despite the departure of five starters from a state championship team the previous year. The Seahawks knew they were still the class of 3-A, and anything other than a repeat performance in Columbia wasn't going to cut it for Suozzi and Co.

Consider their goals accomplished.

Faith Lifer's goal in the 28th minute proved more than enough for the Seahawks on Friday, as Hilton Head High claimed a 1-0 victory over Eastside in the Class 3-A state title game, its second championship in as many seasons and third in five years.

"We came out from day one of conditioning and that was our goal," Suozzi said. "We really didn't want to accept anything less than a state championship again."

Defense was the bedrock for the Seahawks this season, so it was only fitting that it led them to another state title at Memorial Stadium. With its offense struggling to find the back of the net against Eastside keeper Maylyn Parson, Hilton Head High's defense responded by limiting the Eagles to just five shots on goal. Keeper Lauryn Bush only needed to make a pair of saves.

"We just all work together," senior defender Megan Farrell said. "We don't have one special person on this team or one special defender."

Farrell's final game in a Seahawk uniform ended with yet another shutout for Hilton Head High, its 18th this season, which is believed to be a school record. The Seahawks surrendered just 13 goals all year, led by Farrell and the back line of Nikki Schoning, Jordan Haughton-James and Carter Julseth.

"They're rock solid," Suozzi said. "Those three girls back there with Megan in the middle makes it easier for the midfielders. Everybody complements each other."

The Seahawks surely needed their defense in this one. Hilton Head High (25-2) registered 20 shots against the Eagles (19-8) but were stymied by Parson nearly every time, as the all-state goalie finished with nine saves, including seven in the first half.

The one time the Seahawks did manage to break through proved to be the difference, though, as Lifer slid one into the right side of the net past a diving Parson midway through the first half.

"I was running down the field and Bridgette (Noonan) gave me a perfect pass, and I just finished the job like anybody would have," Lifer said.

It was a tighter match than Suozzi would have liked, but he certainly wasn't complaining. He was too busy being drenched by the water bucket held by Farrell and a host of other Seahawks.

"One stinking goal, man," he said with a smile. "But it held up. And that's all that matters."

Suozzi has never shied away from lofty expectations. And with his team losing just two seniors this year -- only one a starter -- another state title may be in the works for 2013.

"We have the same aspirations," said Lifer, who will be one of 12 seniors for the Seahawks next season. "We just have to work even harder. (We have to) prove that we've still got it and we're still here, so watch out."

Hilton Head High 1, Eastside 0

Goals -- Faith Lifer (28th)