Even with a two-goal cushion in the waning minutes of regulation, Dave Snyder couldn’t relax.
It wasn’t until two overtimes periods and five rounds of spot kicks had passed that the Bishop England girls soccer coach finally cracked a smile.
“You know, at some point, a quality team is going to make a run,” Snyder said following top-ranked Bishop England’s shootout win over No. 2 Academic Magnet in a matchup of the defending AAA and AA state champions Thursday at Jack Cantey Stadium on Daniel Island.
“They’re a quality team. This was a good chance for us to learn tonight.”
Bishop England controlled much of the match, holding a two-goal advantage for more than 50 minutes.
Bishops freshman midfielder Isabella DeMarco converted an assist from junior Alexis DeMarco in the second minute. Senior defender Kelly Drummond put away a penalty kick in the 19th minute.
“I liked the quality of ball we were playing,” Snyder said. “We were possessing well. We moved the ball well. We were defending the entire space. We only have three seniors but the younger ones are learning while the older ones are leading and that’s what we want.”
Academic Magnet senior Riane Coman entered as one of the state’s top scorers through the early portion of this season but found limited opportunities against the Bishops’ back line. The reigning Gatorade Player of the Year tried for most of the game to set up her teammates only to have opportunities thwarted. As time began to wear thin, Coman pressed forward more aggressively.
Coman corralled a loose ball amidst traffic in front of the net and with a soft touch cut the Bishops’ lead in half with her 15th goal of the season with less than five minutes remaining.
Coman had another look inside of the box, one on one with Bishops keeper Emily Scharnitsky that flew wide now with less than two minutes to play. She created havoc again moments later in front of the net, jostling a ball loose between defenders that Riley Haas tapped in to even the game.
“The idea was not to stab at (Coman), don’t chase her around and try to cut her down,” Snyder said. “We were just hoping to contain her and make her get rid of the ball. We did a good job of containing her for the most part, I thought. But she’s the type of player that’s going to make you pay for mistakes.”
Bishop England had at least four quality looks in overtime. Raptors keeper Libby Jaskwhich snatched one out of the air early in the first extra period. The Bishops had a direct kick fly awry, a header off a corner miss wide and nice opportunity inside the Raptors’ box deflected in the second extra period, sending the game to a series of deciding penalty kicks.
“We finish every single practice with kicks from the spot so we were pretty confident we could place the majority of them in the net,” Snyder said. “But you never really know though. Anything can happen when you go to the spot.”
Coman went first, drilling a strike off the hand of Scharnitsky and into the net. Lauren Berrigan followed with the equalizer for Bishop England.
Scharnitsky stopped Hass’ shot in the following round and Isabella DeMarco converted to put the Bishops ahead.
Kaylin Morris then missed high on the Academic Magnet’s third attempt but so did Alexis DeMarco, leaving opportunity open for the Raptors.
Sophie McLean scored for Magnet in the fourth round and Drummond answered. But when Trinity McManus’ shot floated high on the Raptors’ fifth attempt , the Bishops stormed the field to celebrate their fourth straight win over the Raptors.
“Those kicks are about keeping our emotions in check, taking a deep breathe and placing the ball,” Snyder said. “It can be tough to do that. Things happen. But tonight we did.”
Bishop England (7-1-1) and Academic Magnet (7-3) will meet again April 2 in West Ashley, likely to decide Region 7-AAA. Both teams are young, leaning on a few quality veterans to help groom a host of underclassmen.
Snyder expects both teams to develop as the season progresses and anticipates another challenging matchup in the regular-season rematch and possibly even the in the postseason.
“Two quality teams,” Snyder said. “No illusion to the fact that when we play over at Magnet’s field, on a smaller pitch, things could be entirely different and by that time both of us will be a little more seasoned. It really comes down to who can develop during the season to make a full run at it.”