The stakes are higher when a state championship is on the line, amplifying the elation of victory — and for the Hilton Head Christian Academy boys soccer team, the agony of defeat.
The Eagles battled Oakbrook Prep — their seemingly perennial rival in the state championship game — to a draw for more than 105 minutes before the Knights found the golden goal in the fourth overtime period to walk away with a 2-1 victory and their second straight SCISA 2A title.
Oakbrook Prep has defeated HHCA in the title game in 2019 and 2021, returning the favor after the Eagles beat the Knights in consecutive championship games in 2017 and 2018.
Both teams had a tough time finishing their scoring opportunities on a windy day in Columbia, but the breeze helped contribute to the game’s first goal. Oakbrook opened the scoring in the early minutes when a strike from distance caught the wind and floated over Riley Shinn’s outstretched hands.
The Knights stymied the Eagles’ attack with five players in the back, keeping HHCA’s fast, physical forwards at bay. The Eagles finally broke through for the equalizer in the second half, when Cameron Strickland drove home a rebound of a Logan Harsta free kick to even the match.
The outstanding midfield play of Josh Elam, Christian Becker, and Liam Healy allowed the Eagles to play the entirety of overtime with a three-man back line, pushing forward in search of the game-winner, but HHCA couldn’t capitalize.
When the Knights got their chance, they pounced. Shinn saved a shot on a breakaway, but Oakbrook punched in the rebound to deny the Eagles a sweep after the HHCA girls started the day with a SCISA 2A title of their own.
“It hurts more because we outplayed them, but kudos to them for the formation and getting the job done,” HHCA coach Matt O’Shaughnessy said. “Proud of our boys. We will miss this senior class big time.”
HHCA finishes the season with a 7-3-2 overall record.