BEAUFORT - Members of the Beaufort High boys soccer team created a pact before the season. If they won the Region 8-4A title, the Eagles would dye their hair bleach blond.
"On the way home from the Colleton County game (May 6), we heard we won region," Beaufort High's Parker Essary said. "We were all excited, and then were like, 'Oh, no. We've got to bleach our hair now.' "
The shades of yellow varied slightly, but the 11 bobbing heads on Beaufort High's field Tuesday shared the same message: The Eagles had earned the No. 1 seed and wanted a symbol of solidarity as they opened the Class 4A playoffs.
Beaufort continued its recent tear, knocking off White Knoll 4-1 to advance. The Eagles (14-4) play host to Carolina Forest or James Island on Thursday in the second round.
Their path to the next game has taken several turns during the past three weeks. On April 21, the Eagles learned coach Lateef Turral had been dismissed and their new coach would be Gabriel Nieves, an area club coach who had worked with some of his new players.
Beaufort then won four of its final five matches, losing to region foe West Ashley but beating Summerville and Fort Dorchester. The result of the Eagles' torrid finish? The region's four playoff teams each finished with 5-3 region records.
Fort Dorchester originally was determined to be the region's top seed and was scheduled to play host to White Knoll. But after applying the region's bylaws regarding tiebreakers, the Eagles were crowned region champs based on their season winning percentage.
Players did not know for certain of the news until Monday, but they arrived at practice Saturday having fulfilled their preseason promise.
"I didn't know what they were going to do," Nieves said of his players' new look. "But they did great (Tuesday). They did everything we practiced."
The Eagles' avenged last season's first-round loss to the Timberwolves.
Beaufort had seven shots on goal in the first 40 minutes Tuesday, taking a 1-0 lead.
In the 45th minute, striker Christian Faale's shot found the right side of the net to put the Eagles ahead 2-0. White Knoll's John Moore scored from straight on, just outside the keeper's box, to pull the Wolves within a goal.
"We started pushing guys up to try to score," White Knoll coach Tim Green said. "We had to score and just opened up too many holes (on defense)."