Lexington - It wasn't easy, and the final was in doubt until the final second ticked off the clock, but the Academic Magnet boys soccer team got it done.
The Raptors defeated Indian Land, 1-0, to capture the Class AA state championship on Saturday, marking the school's second boys title. Academic Magnet finished the season with a 19-4-2 record. The Raptors also beat Indian Land in the 2012 finals.
Colton Frankel's goal in the 22nd minute, on an assist from Aaron Thornton, proved to be the game-winner in a game that saw both teams fail to convert on several scoring opportunities.
In the end, it was Academic Magnet's defensive backfield, led by senior back Alex Lanning and senior keeper Brady Allardice, that secured the victory.
"We have a veteran back line with a senior keeper that's a four-year starter, and we really rely on those guys every game," said coach Jason Hamil. "It's a mature group back there and we trust them once we get a lead. They were great today.
"I give all the credit in the world to Indian Land and their kids. That was one of the toughest, one of the most intense games that we have played in all year. They definitely came out and performed unbelievably well."
Academic Magnet pressured Indian Land keeper Jake Barton throughout the game, but Barton was up to the task, recording six saves.
"We definitely wanted a second goal. We felt if we could go up two, we could just ride it out," said Hamil. "Their keeper made some incredible saves. We had some opportunities, but he was tough. He certainly deserves all of the accolades that he has received this year. We didn't get frustrated and I thought that was the key for us. We kept playing and kept battling, working to get more opportunities."
Allardice missed the 2012 state championship game due to a red card suspension. He was happy to close out his high school career on the field with a winning team.
"It's really special to be able to be a part of this," Allardice said. "To be able to get out here and experience this on the field with my teammates instead of watching it on the sidelines is really special."
After winning the championship in 2012, the Raptors were the favorite in Class AA last season. However, Bishop England knocked off Academic Magnet in the Lower State finals last year and went on to beat Indian Land in the finals.
Hamil was never sure if he would get another championship opportunity and plans to enjoy this year's title run.
"The group two years ago was special and the core of that group left after last season," said Hamil. "For this group here to take ownership of this team and to work so hard to make this happen again is really special. We had six seniors that were great leaders for us. They never stopped believing they could do this."