Saturday's SCISA Class AAA boys state soccer championship match is a rematch of last year's game featuring Pinewood Prep vs. Cardinal Newman.
Pinewood Prep coach Jason Birchwood is hoping for a repeat of last year's showdown, when the Panthers rallied from a 2-0 early deficit to win 4-2, for the school's sixth consecutive state title.
"Last year's match was somewhat interesting," Birchwood said. "We had the better first 10 minutes of the match, but they had a 2-0 lead."
Last year, the Cardinals were called for a violation in stoppage time at the end of the first half, and Malcolm Reed scored on a penalty kick to cut Cardinal Newman's lead to 2-1.
In overtime, Cardinal Newman goalkeeper Timmy Cunningham deflected a shot, and teammate Adam Touma stopped the ball with his foot and booted it back to Cunningham, who picked the ball up on the pass-back.
The Panthers were awarded an indirect kick just in front of the net because of the violation, and Joe Sweet scored in the 93rd minute to give Pinewood its first lead, 3-2.
Two minutes later, Brandon Ferro scored his second goal of the match, a shot from 25 yards out with the keeper out of the goal.
Saturday's 5 p.m. match at the University of South Carolina's Stone Stadium won't include Reed, The Post and Courier's Player of the Year, Sweet or four other players who graduated shortly after the match.
The team has lost nine games, including eight to public schools, and the other to Cardinal Newman. That provides the motivation Saturday.
"That was a lot of experience we lost," Birchwood said. "We played a tough schedule (this spring) and it was an ideal way for me to find out where we are. The kids have responded well. We talk about what it feels like to win. It feels good to win.
"In my opinion, you don't get anything out of losing. I just try to remind them that no one likes a loser. Coaches are fired. Consequences are paid. Laps are run. Winning another state title builds on Pinewood's soccer reputation."
The team's juniors and newcomers are eager to add to the dynasty in Summerville.
Key players include goalkeeper Robert Beebe, defender Brandon Phinney, Blaise Rashtchian, Taylor Katsanis, Justin White and Dillion Thies and Thomas Ferro.
"We're young," Birchwood said. "But we're eager and skilled."