By Bill Dalton, Head Coach
Less than five minutes into the second half, the rain came. The wind picked up too, and it looked like the tropical storm that threatened to postpone SCISA’s Soccer Championship on May 9th, at Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, may have finally arrived. Trailing 0-1 to Hilton Head Prep, the Beaufort Academy boys’ soccer team struggled to keep possession and string together the passing combinations that had created several good first-half chances, and allowed the Eagles to rack up a 15-3 record and the #1 overall seed in the play-offs.
Fortunately the bad weather only lasted five minutes, and the return of the sunshine saw BA re-take control of the match. Ryan Muniz made the first of a series of devastating runs down the left flank, but the turning point came off a cross from right-winger Jack Olsson. As the Prep defenders began to focus more attention on stopping Muniz, BA’s central midfield trio of Ross Walker, Reyn Robinson, and George Sanford combined to switch the point of attack to the right flank, where a waiting Olsson beat his defender and served a beautiful ball past the Prep goalkeeper and toward the back post. Nicky Macuch, who missed much of the season with hip flexor and hamstring injuries and played most of the final match with a broken toe, overpowered both centerbacks and headed the ball home for the equalizer.
The next 15 minutes saw Prep hold off increasing pressure from BA, as Sanford’s precise distribution from the center of the park and Muniz’s irrepressible play on the left flank led to several good chances. Just as it was beginning to look like the game might be heading to overtime, Sanford, a senior and last year’s SCISA A-AA Player of the Year, put BA ahead with a cracking shot from the top of the 18-yard-box. The goal energized BA and deflated Prep, and the final eight minutes saw BA add another goal from Ryan Muniz and one from Clay Melville.
BA finished the game with a 4-1 victory and all 11 seniors on the field. Employing an attacking formation and a fluid, possession style dominated by the play of its five midfielders, the Eagles nonetheless relied on excellent play from their defenders as well as senior goalkeeper Ashton Guest. Right back Mac Griffith, a junior, was solid in his first year as a varsity starter, and senior Drummond Koppernaes made the team’s success this year possible when he switched from his traditional role in the midfield to left back. Junior Charles Aimar’s speed and positional play at centerback were exceptional all year.
25 championships in 50 years
The boys’ victory on Saturday gave Beaufort Academy its 49th overall state championship during its 50 year history, and was the school’s 25th state title in boys soccer. In addition, BA boys’ soccer holds the SCISA (South Carolina Independent School Association) record for the most championships in a single sport.