The run of success by the Brookland-Cayce boys soccer team continues. The Bearcats used a dominant 3-0 victory against defending Class 3A state champion Hilton Head on Friday night to advance to the state quarterfinals for the 15th time in the past 19 years.
The Bearcats will host Socastee, a 5-0 winner against Airport, at 7 p.m. Saturday in the quarterfinals. This is the last game to be played in The Cage, the long-time home for B-C. The Bearcats are opening a new stadium next fall for football, and the soccer team will move there next spring.
Brookland-Cayce coach Kevin Heise was happy to past the second round.
“It’s always a hurdle,” Heise said. “It’s always a hard one to get through because it’s a second-round game in a predetermined bracket. It’s not done by seeding, so you get a tough game in the second round. We will see a tough team (Saturday) in Socastee. We’ve had our battles in history with them, as well, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Brookland-Cayce (22-3-1) and Hilton Head (13-8) are no strangers to meeting in the postseason. The squads have faced off in each of the past five years. The Seahawks knocked the Bearcats out last season in the quarterfinals en route to winning the state championship.
Heise and Hilton Head coach Wayne Quinlan are close friends and they almost expect to see each other in the postseason.
“We both put a lot in our soccer programs, and we’re going to cross paths in the playoffs,” Heise said. “It’s just one of those things. Wayne Quinlan is one of my dear friends in the coaching profession. We text or email daily and, most days, multiple times. They pull for us when we’re not playing them and we pull for them when they’re not playing us.”
Quinlan, the former coach at Dutch Fork, said his young team couldn’t match the pressure the Bearcats applied.
“We got caged,” he said, playing off the name of B-C’s home field. “I’ve seen this style of soccer out of B-C the last 20 years. They don’t change. A lot of times it works and, sometimes, it doesn’t. Last year, we were a different team and we had the poise to play soccer under conditions B-C throws out there. This year, our inexperience showed from the opening kick-off. My hat’s off to them. They played extremely well.”
Brookland-Cayce scored two goals in the first 16 minutes and was never challenged. Hilton Head tried to drop maximum defenders whenever the Bearcats went on attack, but it didn’t prevent the first two goals off of set plays.
Alex Peachy headed in a long pass from David Koprowski in the 13th minute before Dominik Byars added a goal off of an assist from Joel Salcedo in the 16th minute for the 2-0 lead.
“We talked all week about coming out to set the tempo,” Heise said. “We had to win the 50-50 balls and attack. We wanted to make the game personal, and we did that early. That is what I was so proud of. Both of those goals came from backs, and we got a chance to run a set piece and they made them count.”
The Bearcats kept the pressure on in the second half and finished with a 24-5 advantage in shots on goal. Tyler Brazell scored his 31st goal of the season in the 48th minute to round out the performance. He received a nice pass from Byars to put it out of reach.
That was an important goal to widen the margin with a little more than 30 minutes to play.
“I told them at halftime that two-goal lead can be deadly,” Heise said. “One goal and they’re back in it and the momentum might shift and you’re in a dogfight. That was big to extend the lead right there.”
B-C goalkeeper Edwin Taylor had a solid defense in front of him, but when the Seahawks were able to go on attack, he made three saves.
Goals: Alex Peachy, Dominik Byars, Tyler Brazell. Assists: David Koprowski, Joel Salcedo, Byars. SOG: B-C 24, HH 5. Saves: B-C Edwin Taylor 3, HH – Marlon Ascension 9.