Pinewood Prep girls advance to state final

- Pinewood Prep took advantage of second-half defensive lapses to pull out a 2-1 win against Cardinal Newman in a SCISA Class AAA girls soccer semifinal match Thursday at George Watson Field.

The Panthers will face Hilton Head Christian in the state final on Saturday at Heathwood Hall. It was the second consecutive semifinal disappointment for Cardinal Newman, which closed with a 15-7 record.

"I'm not surprised at all, because this is a team that wants it," Pinewood coach Gail Osborne said. "We had a game plan and followed it perfectly."

Cardinal Newman opened the scoring in the 12th minute on a goal by Catherine Onate.

The 1-0 edge stood until the 53rd minute, when Summer Ricciardi buried a wide-open shot into the vacant net - an opportunity created by miscommunication by the Cardinal Newman defense.

The Panthers (17-1-3) took the lead in the 76th minute when Charlotte Ring split the CN defense to run down a long through ball and beat Cardinal keeper Sarah Charlton with a rocket from 15 yards out that caught the top right corner of the net.

"Our research told us that the more (Cardinal Newman) pushed up, the more exposed they'd be in the back," Osborne said. "We were patient; we knew it was only a matter of time before we'd get our chances."

Cardinal Newman had plenty of scoring opportunities and finished with a 17-8 edge in shots, but Panthers keeper Hannah Miner kept her team in the hunt by making seven saves - five in the first half with the Cardinals pressing matters in the offensive end.

"Our trouble in the back came down to a miscommunication issue," CN coach Kathleen Pollard said. "Our goal was to win the state championship, so we're obviously extremely disappointed to come up short again."

HH Christian defeated defending champion Heathwood Hall, 3-1, in the other semifinal match to set up the All-Lowcountry title bout.