The Airport boys soccer team enjoyed a dream ride in the Class 3A state playoffs, advancing all the way to the Lower State championship match after entering postseason play as a No. 3 seed out of Region 5-3A.
To say the Eagles stirring playoff challenge was unexpected is to state the obvious. But Airport, under first-year coach Sam Masone, reeled off three straight roads wins at Hilton head (2-0), at St. James (3-0) at, most gratifyingly, at Brookland-Cayce (2-0) to reach the fourth round of the playoffs for the first time. Airport lost to South Aiken, which had suffered its only loss in the region season to the Eagles, in the LS championship match, 3-0.
It was the longest playoff stay in program history.
“For a team that won five matches total last year, I couldn't ask for more from a team,” said Masone. “They really turned heads this year and proved to the state that Airport could play with the best. After what we accomplished this season, we know our time is coming.”
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Airport finished with a 14-10 record.
Brandon Verano, Garrett Sims, Austin Jordan were the Eagles all-region players this spring. All three are expected to return next season when expectations will be a good bit higher. Trent Harrison, Andrew McKinney, Clayton Goette, Trey Stone, Austin Jordan and Jamie Sires are the other returning starters.
The Eagles lose only two senior starters - Tremaine Shivers and Kobie Liscusky.
Returning starters: Trent Harrison, Garrett Sims, Andrew McKinney, Clayton Goette, Griff Sims, Brandon Verano, Trey Stone, Austin Jordan, Jamie Sires
“We should be strong and ready to go (in 2010),” said Masone. “We have a lot of starters returning and great leadership to get us back to lower state. The sky is the limit for this returning group.”
Griff Sims led the club with nine goals this season, and Goette finished with a team-high seven assists.