HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC — Chris MacMurray has become accustomed to the high drama that tends to surround Hilton Head Island High School soccer matches.
But no last-minute shots, double overtime or penalty kicks were needed on this night, as the Seahawks cruised to an easy 5-0 win over Airport on Tuesday in the first round of the Class 3-A playoffs.
“It was a little bit easier tonight,” he said.
Hilton Head High’s quest to defend its Lower State title likely will welcome back some of that wildness Thursday, when the Seahawks play host to a Myrtle Beach team that made it to the state championship two years ago.
Hilton Head High — 18-4 and ranked No. 3 in the state — is expected to be the underdog against another bunch of Seahawks eager to avenge last season’s unexpected defeat early in the postseason. Myrtle Beach (18-3), ranked No. 6 in Class 3-A, dished out an 11-0 thrashing to Lakewood on Tuesday.
“I don’t know if anybody else in the state will notice, but Myrtle Beach will know and Hilton Head will know how big the match is,” coach Wayne Quinlan said. “ ... The word on them is that they just don’t have any weaknesses. We’ll have to be really, really good on Thursday.”
Hilton Head High is pretty impressive in its own right. Chip Tremarelli, the reigning NSCAA/TopDrawerSoccer.com national player of the week, tallied a pair of goals in the win over Airport while MacMurray — the 2012 Class 3-A player of the year — also notched a two.
“It’s a team effort,” said MacMurray, who tallied a trio of postseason goals a year ago en route to the state championship match. “Chip is still banging in goals like nothing. Our back four is immense. To win 5-0, with a clean sheet, it’s all on them.”
Tremarelli got the Seahawks on the board first in the 17th minute after MacMurray found him right in front of the net. MacMurray doubled the advantage in the 23rd on a breakaway score before freshman Koben Barrientos banged one in from 25 yards out two minutes later.
Tremarelli and MacMurray added their second goals of the night in the 38th and 43rd minutes, respectively.
“It’s all coming together,” Tremarelli said. “Our attack, our defense, it’s all playing well.”
That well-rounded performance, which included just two shots on goal by Airport, will need to be at another elite level against the Seahawks on Thursday, Quinlan said.
“There’s a little extra pressure,” Tremarelli said. “But I think if we just play how we played today, how we normally play, we should be fine.”
The winner will advance to Saturday’s Lower State semifinal. Hilton Head High would host that match should it survive against Myrtle Beach.
“Just from hearing stuff from Coach, we know they’re a strong program every year,” MacMurray said. “But they’ve got to come through us. They’ve got to come through the Nest.”
Hilton Head High 5, Airport 0
Goals -- Hilton Head High: Chip Tremarelli (17th, 38th), Chris MacMurray (23rd, 43rd), Koben Barrientos (25th)