COLUMBIA -- This was supposed to be a rebuilding year.
The Beaufort Academy boys soccer team lost its leading scorer from last season and moved its keeper out of the net and into the field. Eagles coach Bill Dalton thought his team might need some seasoning.
Everything came together earlier than might have been expected.
The surprise Eagles capped their season with a 2-1 overtime victory over Oakbrook Prep on Saturday in the SCISAA 1-A/2-A championship at Heathwood Hall. Beaufort Academy's Drummond Koppernaes scored the winning goal, a left-footed shot from 12 yards at the end of the second overtime period.
The state title was the first for the Eagles in the spring season since 1999.
Beaufort Academy graduated leading scorer Conner Akers and switched out its keeper, Reyn Robinson, for Ashton Guest. Robinson moved up top to forward late in the season after starting the year in the back.
Dalton was counting on George Sanford, Koppernaes and Jack Olsson to pick up the scoring load this season. The new look just kept working for Beaufort Academy, which defeated Spartanburg Day 4-3 in the semifinals.
"It had to pass on to everybody else," Koppernaes said. "He was definitely the key player. We stopped scoring when he left."
Dalton said the Eagles learned they wouldn't score goals at the same pace as last season, and that their patience aided improvement later in the season.
They needed it Saturday.
Clay Melville scored for Beaufort Academy on a header off a pass from Ross Walker in the 31st minute. The Knights got the equalizer on Jason Wall's 25-yard free kick in the 58th minute.
Guest, in his first full season in the net, helped keep the Eagles in it with several diving saves in traffic. The Eagles missed a few opportunities at the go-ahead goal sooner.
Sanford tried to hook in a free kick from 19 yards late in the second half. Two corner kicks in extra time yielded nothing.
The Eagles remained patient.
"We were just thinking how hard we worked all season, how much we wanted to win," Melville said.
In overtime, Koppernaes missed an earlier chance from 10 yards but delivered later in the period, crossing the 18-yard box to his left and punching in the winner.
Dalton thought the Eagles' strong finish was due to better stamina. He saw the Knights sub liberally throughout the match but thought he had the fitter team in the end.
"They were just gassed," Dalton said. "And we had legs."
After the final horn, Koppernaes ripped off his shirt and disappeared under a dogpile. Dalton received ice showers from two coolers while talking to a reporter near midfield.
The Eagles posed for pictures and passed around the champion's trophy, talking of a celebratory trip to Five Guys.
"You couldn't ask for a better feeling, really," senior defender Jack Dailey said. "... Early in the season, I thought we might not have it in us."
SCISAA Class 1-A/2-A boys soccer championship
Beaufort Academy 2, Oakbrook Prep 1 (OT)
Goals: BA -- Clay Melville (31st minute), Drummond Koppernaes (98th minute). OP -- Jason Wall (58th minute).
Follow assistant sports editor Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.