It was a glass half full kind of day as four Lowcountry teams played for state soccer championships on Saturday at Irmo High School.
Wando’s boys team extended their state-record winning streak to 54 games on their way to a repeat as the Class AAAAA state champions.
Bishop England’s girls team won its first-ever Class AAA state title and its 11th championship overall since 2000 with a win over defending state champion Indian Land.
Bishop England’s boys came up short against defending state champion Berea in the AAA finals while the Charleston Math & Science boys lost to The Governor’s School in the Class A boys finale.
Wando rolls to repeat
Wando scored two minutes into the championship contest with Upper State champion Nation Ford with senior all-stater Charlie Marino finding the back of the net.
Wando had allowed only goal in playoff soccer over the last two years but Nation Ford struck gold with a 25-yard laser free kick off the foot of Jake Cubine in the 27th minute of the first half.
In the fourth minute of the second half, Marino rifled a shot off the post that bounced off to the waiting foot of Alex Holloman, who finished the play to give Wando a 2-1 lead. That would prove to be the game-winner as Wando held off all late challenges.
“Anytime you get to this point, to this game, it’s going to be a battle,” Wando coach Shilo Tisdale said. “We never take anything for granted. Nation Ford played hard. They played their system very well. I wished we could have put it away earlier but props to those guys. They made us play to the end, which is what I would expect.”
Marino played a major role in each of the last two championship seasons. He says playing on a team that has not tasted defeat for two seasons brings out the best in every opponent.
“Every single game, no matter who we play, we get the toughest match,” Marino said. “Everyone wants to beat Wando. We knew tonight would be a battle and we were ready for it.
“Two years undefeated, it is incredible. I started playing soccer when I was six or seven and I always wanted to play Wando soccer. I never imagined this.”
Tisdale hopes that outsiders and fans alike appreciate the magnitude of what his program has and continues to accomplish.
“People see the wins and all but they don’t see how hard these guys work and how committed they are to the sport and to this program,” the coach said. “It doesn’t just happen by accident. These guys work their tails off, all year long, to experience moments like this.”
Bishop England claims AAA girls title
Bishop England won its first-ever Class AAA girls soccer championship, beating defending state champion Indian Land, 2-0.
The title was the program’s overall 11th since 2000 and gave coach Dave Snyder his ninth championship as coach. Bishop England (19-2-1) last won a championship two years ago in Class AA.
“The girls left last season feeling like they left something out on the pitch,” Snyder said. “Through the summer and all the training, preseason and everything else, they were dedicated. They were really determined that they were going to get back here.
“We had seven seniors and they were exceptional. The real thing was the chemistry. I can put them in position and set everything up but it’s the chemistry and their love for each other that makes this team special.”
Freshman Kayla Vroman broke a scoreless tie with a goal in the 15th minute of the contest and the Bishops held a 1-0 halftime lead.
Senior Kessy Bradshaw, headed to The Citadel in the fall, made it 2-0 with a goal in the 51st minute. Bradshaw scored three goals as a sophomore in the 2016 AA state championship.
“This was our comeback season,” Bradshaw said. “We kind of felt we should have won last year. We wanted to do this. All of these girls work so hard. We wanted to come out and play our game.”
Bishop England essentially sealed the deal with a goal by sophomore Britton Blom in the 75th minute. The defense dominated from the outset. Bishop England allowed only 11 goals all season.
Bishop England boys drop 4-3 final to Berea
Despite getting a hat trick from Miller Stokes, the Bishop England boys could not overcome a 3-1 deficit and fell, 4-3, to Berea. The Bulldogs won their second straight AAA title and finished the season 19-0. Natividad Perez scored all four goals for Berea.
Bishop England was seeking their 18th state championship and finished 22-3. The Bishops played without one of their top players, James Cox, who was serving the second game of a two-game suspension imposed by the South Carolina High School League.
“The chances they got, they put them away,” Bishop England coach Ed Khouri said. “Number nine (Perez) is very good player, he finishes. At this level, you snooze, you lose. It was a good comeback for us but we didn’t have enough firepower to match up with them. We did miss James but it is what it is.”
Perez gave Berea the 1-0 lead in the 24th minute before Stokes answered two minutes later to tie the score.
Perez added two goals in two minutes late in the half for a 3-1 lead before Stokes made it 3-2 with a goal in the 60th minute.
With the Bishops pushing hard offensively, Berea was able to clear a long pass to Perez, who beat a defender and the keeper for the decisive goal in the 75th minute.
Charleston Charter falls in Class A final
The Riptide of Charleston Charter for Math & Science ran into a red-hot team from the Governor’s School and dropped a 5-0 decision in the Class A boys state title game.
The Riptide ended its season at 11-6 overall and coach Noah Garrett says his team was just over-matched.
“That is a very good team and they played amazing all year,” Garrett said. “We’re a very young team. Our guys gained a great experience today. We ran into a wall today against a very good team.”
The Governor’s School scored in the 22nd minute and held a 2-0 lead at the half. They put the contest away with three second-half goals, two in a two-minute span.
Joe Bhio scored twice, as did Jay Occilien for the Governor’s School, which finished with a 15-4 record.
“This has been one of the most memorable seasons I have had in high school coaching,” Garrett said. “The way my team played, and the way they played for each other, really sets a great example for the kids I hope to have in the future.”