The Academic Magnet boys soccer team beat Waccamaw, 1-0, Tuesday night, but the Raptors had little time to celebrate.
They will be playing in their fifth state championship game Saturday when they face Indian Land at 1:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium in Columbia.
The Raptors (21-2) are searching for their first state title, and they must do it without keeper Brady Alldarice, who received a red card in the Class AA Lower State championship game.
That’s why coach Jason Hamil’s message to his team was brief Wednesday night: “Congratulations. But get ready for practice tomorrow.”
Academic Magnet’s first four state title appearances were at the Class A level. They played Christ Church four times and lost four heartbreakers: twice in regulation, once in overtime and once in penalty kicks.
The keeper situation is a concern, but Hamil has built depth in his tenure at the school. He plans to start Chris Abraham as the replacement.
“Chris is a senior, and he’s played in goal for us,” Hamil said. “He was in goal for our James Island preseason scrimmage. Chris was actually slated to be our starting goalkeeper last year. He kind of has a little bit of a football mentality — if it’s up there, go get it. He’s kind of raw goalkeeping-wise, but as a senior, with his experience, I trust him back there.”
Indian Land began the playoffs as a No. 2 seed and defeated Columbia, Buford, Emerald and Gilbert.
“I know Indian Land has had some close games against some bigger competition. So we know that they obviously have the skills to play at a high level. We expect a good match.”
Academic Magnet, the No. 1 seed in the Lower State, received a bye in the first round and pounded Marion, 7-0, in the second round. The Raptors breezed past Barnwell, 4-1, and had a close encounter against Waccamaw.
Academic Magnet scored its only goal in the 55th minute Wednesday night on freshman midfielder Nick Nybo’s deflection into the net.
That gave the Raptors another berth in the state final after losing to Bishop England in the Lower State championship last spring. Last season marked the Raptors’ first year in Class AA.
“I think the experience last year, I think having the guys we brought in, I think having the sub rotation and our depth, is the difference,” Hamil said. “Our season record, our body of work through the season, earned us the No. 1 seed.”