MOUNT PLEASANT — With four minutes remaining in the second overtime period, the Pinewood Prep boys soccer team could taste victory in Saturday’s SCISA Class AAA state championship match with Cardinal Newman at Patriots Point.
Unfortunately, Cardinal Newman had the state’s best player, Koty Millard, on their side. Millard, who has signed with South Carolina, scored two goals in the last four minutes of the overtime period and sent Pinewood Prep to a heartbreaking 4-3 defeat in the finals for the second consecutive season.
Pinewood Prep (16-4) played both the last quarter of the second half and both overtime periods a man down due to a red card. The disadvantage was apparent late when Cardinal Newman pressed offensively.
“Playing one player less, that hurts,” said Pinewood coach Enrique Rodriguez. “I think 11 on 11 we hold on there. We managed to score a goal, but it’s tough. But they have a great player and he made great plays. We could not deal with him. He had an opportunity and he made the most of it.”
Millard ended the match with three goals, scoring on a penalty kick in the first half to give Cardinal Newman a 2-0 lead.
Pinewood’s Nolan Pooser made it 2-1 with a goal before halftime, and Jarrett Londergan tied it at 2 with a goal nine minutes into the second period.
In the first 10-minute overtime, Londergan gave Pinewood a 3-2 lead with 3:30 to go.
It was apparent from the first touch that the match would be a physical affair. Four yellow cards for rough play were issued in the opening 13 minutes.
After each of its first two goals, Cardinal Newman received a yellow card for unsportsmanship, the second resulting in the ejection of Cardinal Newman coach Will Eudy.
For Rodriguez, the focus turns to the future.
“It’s a great group of boys,” said Rodriguez. “Everyone contributed to the success that we had and we have some good boys coming back. We will try again next year. That’s all we can say.”