COLUMBIA -- The Bishop England boys got redemption and another state soccer title Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Gilbert in the Class AA state championship at Memorial Stadium.
The Bishops claimed their 15th state title since the High School League sanctioned the sport in 1976. The 15 titles tied the state record held by Irmo, which was denied its 16th state title by Wando later Saturday night.
Last year, Batesburg-Leesville stunned the state soccer community and the Bishops with a 1-0 triple overtime victory in a game the Bishops dominated in every category except scoring. It was arguably the biggest upset in state soccer championship history. Bishop England outshot Batesburg-Leesville, 41-6, but the Panthers' Carlos Hernandez scored a goal in the 102nd minute to give his team a 1-0 victory that denied the Bishops their sixth straight state title.
"It is very gratifying," Bishop England coach Ed Khouri said of the victory that gave the Bishops a 15-6-1 record. "We got our redemption. It's been a very grueling year. This was our 15th championship and gave the school its 96th state championship overall. It is a good feeling to be able to add to that tally.
"We really wanted to get back here because of what happened last year," Khouri added. "We persevered, getting back to the big dance. We emphasized what happened last year a lot this week. Last year, we got our opportunities, but in the end they won."
The Bishops, who outshot Gilbert, 24-7, were able to find the back of the net against Gilbert (24-3). Brian Byrne scored on an assist from Patrick Khouri in the 15th minute. Winslow Carroll made it 2-0 in the 43rd minute, and Drew Costa contributed a goal to give the Bishops control of the match.
"We were all like super-disappointed last year," Byrne said. "We had our opportunities, but we just didn't finish. Today, scoring a goal in the state championship is awesome. Winning a state championship is awesome. It is something we worked for all year."
Elises Cedillo scored Gilbert's only goal in the 72nd minute.
Gilbert was ranked the No. 2 team in Class AA and is one of the fastest rising programs in the state regardless of classification.
Gilbert had only 28 victories from 2004-07 and has flourished since coach Kevin Darlington arrived in '08. The Indians have won 75 matches the last four seasons.
"As a coach, it took me 10 years to get back here," Darlington said. "That tells you how hard it is to reach the state championship. We can look back and enjoy the season. We will have to work to get back here."