Cardinal Newman’s soccer teams have earned a shot at redemption against Pinewood Prep.
The Cardinals boys and girls teams square off against defending SCISA Class 3A state champion Panthers teams on Saturday at Stone Stadium. The girls championship match is scheduled for 3 p.m. on the University of South Carolina pitch with the boys finale to follow at 5 p.m.
Last season, Pinewood swept Cardinal Newman in the two finales in Charleston at Porter-Gaud. The Panthers boys overcame a 2-0 first-half deficit to hand the Cardinals a bitter 4-2 overtime loss and secure their sixth straight SCISA title. The Pinewood girls defeated CN 4-1 to bag their first SCISA championship.
Will Eudy’s top-ranked Cardinal boys enter the championship bout with a 20-6 record and have yet to falter against a SCISA foe this season. The Cards beat Pinewood Prep 3-2 in a shootout thriller in Summerville on March 20.
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CN is on a roll since a disappointing 0-3 showing at the Palmetto Cup spring break tournament, winning 11 of 12 matches. The lone loss was a 3-2 decision against two-time defending SCHSL Class 4A state champion Northwestern. During the surge, the Cardinals locked up the SCISA Region 1-3A championship with a tough 2-1 win over Hammond on April 24, and blew by Hilton Head Christian (4-0) and Heathwood Hall (5-0) in the playoffs earlier this week.
Cardinal Newman is looking to break Pinewood’s stranglehold on independent school soccer and win its first state championship since 2000. Since that last triumph, the Cards have lost in the finals three times – to Pinewood in 2009 and 2007 and to Porter-Gaud in 2001.
The CN girls were once the scourge of SCISA, advancing to the state championship match and winning four titles between 1999 and 2003, but the Cardinals have not hoisted the trophy after beating St. Joseph’s in 2003. Since then, CN has fallen three times in title bouts – against St. Joseph’s (2005), Hilton Head Prep (2006) and Pinewood (2009).
Steve Berzins’ team enters with a 19-5-1 record and riding a 17-match winning streak since a 2-1 overtime loss at Pinewood on March 20.
The Cardinals breezed by Porter-Gaud (7-1) in the playoff opener on Tuesday, and escaped a tough semifinal challenge by St. Joseph’s on Thursday. The Region 1-3A rivals played to a 3-3 draw through regulation and overtime, but CN emerged victorious with a 4-3 edge in the PK shootout session.