Defending SCISA state champion Cardinal Newman opened the 9th Annual Lady Bearcat Invitational girls soccer tournament with a 2-0 win over host Brookland-Cayce on Thursday at The Cage.
Senior forward Sophie Cobb was the offensive star with two goals, but stellar play by senior keeper Molly Rainwater was the real reason for the Cardinals’ impressive win. B-C generated 24 shots of varying degrees of difficulty, but Rainwater was up to every stern test, ringing up 10 saves.
“Brookland-Cayce put the pressure on us, no doubt, but Molly was amazing,” said CN coach Kathleen Pollard. “She only been playing for a few weeks because of basketball season, and she’s starting to get back into soccer shape. She really stepped up tonight.”
Both Cobb tallies came in the first half. She took a pass from the left side from Catherine Onate and drilled a shot from the top of the box past B-C keeper Brooklyn Wagner in the fourth minute. Her second score came on a 25-yard blast in the 34th minute off a Bearcats turnover. Cobb had a chance at a hat trick after the break, but her well-struck free kick from 30 yards in the 42nd minute was just a bit too high and skipped off the crossbar.
“Sophie’s a very talented player and when she’s on, the whole team is on,” said Pollard.
The Cardinals, who won the LBI tournament title last season, improved to 6-1 and will play in the semifinals at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
“We lost some good players from last year, but we also have a solid group back so we’re a team that has high expectations,” said Pollard. “We’re still tweaking things here and there to find the right blend of players and positions, but we’re getting better with each match.”
Brookland-Cayce, ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, fell to 8-3 with the loss and will have a consolation bracket match at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.
“Cardinal Newman’s a strong team and they came ready to play,” said Bearcats coach Katie Smith. “We came out flat and never really recovered. We played a strong second half, but their keeper did a fantastic job. (Rainwater) was the difference. To me, she was the best player they had today.”
The tournament continues Friday with three first round matches: Beaufort vs. Southside Christian (5:30 p.m.); Eastside vs. Spartanburg (6:45 p.m.); Bluffton vs. Webster Groves (MO), 8 p.m.
Saturday’s busy schedule features eight matches starting at 8:30 p.m. The tournament championship match is scheduled at 6 p.m.