Bishop England 1, Academic Magnet 0
The Bishop England boys soccer team is making its 14th straight trip to the Class AA state championship.
"That's why I have so much gray hair," Bishop England coach Ed Khouri said with a laugh after his team beat Academic Magnet, 1-0, Tuesday night at Jack Cantey Stadium to advance to Saturday's title game at Memorial Stadium in Columbia. The Bishops will play the winner of the Gilbert-Indian Land match, which will be played today after being postponed Tuesday night because of bad weather.
Khouri has a sense of humor -- and a sense of reality.
"This program is pretty solid," he said. "I have the support of the athletic director, the principal and the parents, who instill a sense of discipline and dedication in their children. We might lose eight or nine seniors in a year but we have sophomores and juniors waiting in the wings to show what they can do."
The Bishop England-Magnet rivalry is proving to be a good one. Coach Jason Hamil's squad fought hard and made the adjustment this spring from competing at the Class A level to AA. The rivalry also is intense in girls' play. The Raptors knocked the Bishops from the playoffs for the second straight year after the Bishop girls won nine straight state titles. That was one of Khouri's talking points in his pep talk, and junior Michael Reifeis listened well.
"After seeing the girls lose Monday night, that served as a wake-up call," said Reifeis, who scored in the 53rd minute off an assist from talented freshman Patrick Khouri. "We were wishy-washy in the first half, but were pretty solid in the second half."
The Bishops improved to 16-6-1, and Academic Magnet closed out at 16-5 in Hamil's first year as head coach.
"That was a tough loss, but we put our best foot forward," he said. "The past couple of years, we had seasons end the way we didn't want them to. But tonight, we put our best foot forward. We just need to regroup and get ready for next year. Next year doesn't begin next year. It begins tomorrow."
Ross Rogers, Bishop Engalnd's sophomore keeper, recorded four saves and the shutout.