The Academic Magnet boys soccer team overcame a 30th-minute red card to goalkeeper Brady Allardice and utilized an own goal to capture its first Class AA Lower State championship, 1-0 over visiting Waccamaw, Tuesday evening.
In Saturday’s state title contest at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, the Raptors (21-2) will face Upper State champion Indian Land.
The bumpy condition and narrow width of Ravenel Stadium’s playing surface was not conducive to a possession-oriented game, and the result was a high-tempo, direct and slightly chaotic style of play.
No. 1 seed Academic Magnet still managed to get a few good looks at the goal in the early part of the game, but each attempt either narrowly missed the target or was saved by Warriors netminder Taylor King.
With 10:20 left in first half, Allardice charged out of his 18-yard box in an effort to stall Waccamaw’s breakaway opportunity. Allardice saved the ensuing shot with his hands, but the result was a red card for the sophomore, forcing the Raptors down to 10 players for the remainder of the game with backup Chris Abraham in the net.
Shorthanded Academic Magnet caught a major break in the 55th minute when freshman midfielder Nick Nybo’s low cross deflected off Warriors defender Eric Preedom and into the back of the net.
“Nick did exactly what we’ve asked our outside midfielders to do all season,” Raptors coach Jason Hamil said. “It’s get in and then serve the ball across, and you wind up with their defenders as attackers as well, which is what happened on the goal.”
The tally wasn’t undeserving, as Academic Magnet had several significant scoring opportunities in the second half.
“I thought even when we were numbers down, we created chances,” said Hamil, whose squad outshot Waccamaw by a 12-9 margin. “We actually created more corners when we were down a man than when we were even numbers.”
Meanwhile, the third-seeded Warriors, who scored a 4-1 third-round upset to end Bishop England’s reign of 15 straight appearances in the state championship game, struggled to take advantage of the extra player. It wasn’t until the last few minutes of the contest that Waccamaw severely tested the Raptors’ defense.
Academic Magnet weathered that last-minute barrage to secure its place in the Class AA title game.
one year after dropping the Lower State championship to Bishop England by the same score.
Tuesday’s match marked the Raptors’ second win over the Warriors this season, following a 1-0 decision on April 5.