TAYLORS – Sometimes looking in the mirror, you don’t always like what you see.
For the Catawba Ridge Copperheads boys’ soccer team, it was like looking in a mirror in playing the Eastside Eagles in the 4A Upper State championship Tuesday, but this time it was the reflection that got the upper hand as the Eagles ended Catawba Ridge’s season with a 2-1 victory (4-2 in penalty kicks) to give the Copperheads its only loss of the season.
“Our theme this week was that these teams are very similar,” said Catawba Ridge head coach Phillip McCarter. “They run the same formation we run. I thought we had some good chances. We were just unlucky. The season has been incredible. I felt like we were the team to beat. It is hard to string together a perfect season.”
Catawba Ridge’s season ended at 21-1-2. Eastside will now face James Island Saturday in the 4A state championship.
The two teams came into the 4A Upper State championship match pretty evenly matched. Catawba Ridge had scored 76 goals this season compared to Eastside’s 75. The Copperheads had given up 14 goals, while the Eagles had given up just 10. Eastside entered into the game at 17-2 and was ranked third in 4A with Catawba Ridge being first in 4A. The Copperheads ended their season ranked eighth in the country coming into the Upper State championship.
Eastside struck first in the first half catching a diving Copperheads’ keeper Andrew Reinhardt slightly off guard as they drove the ball up the field along the right side and launched a nearly uncontested shot from 25 yards out about 23 minutes into the game.
Catawba Ridge struggled with maintaining possession as Eastside clearly had home field advantage on a very narrow field of play. The Copperheads struggled to get any clear looks at the goal as Eastside packed the box during Catawba Ridge’s possession and made it difficult for them to get any clean shots off.
Eastside controlled possession early in the second half and got multiple corner kicks and free kicks as Catawba Ridge seemed to press to make something happen. That trend lasted most of the second half as every time Catawba Ridge would cross midfield, it seemed they would lose possession.
Just as the Copperheads seemed to dominate most games this season, it was Eastside that were the aggressors and stayed on the attack. When Catawba Ridge did get possession, it seemed that Eastside was able to build a wall before the box and deflected anything the Copperheads were able to try and sneak inside. The Copperheads got their first shot off in the second half with about 15 minutes left in the game. They did pick up the intensity as the half wore on, but was unable to get many more shots off.
Eastside had things going their way well under the two-minute mark left in the game when a tripping call caused a penalty kick to be set up for senior Dalton Bailey, who buried the ball in the back of the net to tie the game and send it into overtime. Both teams continued their close battle in overtime, but could never equal what they had in regulation.
Once the game got to penalty kicks, Eastside converted its first two goals and then went up 3-1 before the Copperheads could convert their second goal. Holding a slim 3-2 margin, Eastside put the game away on their last kick to send themselves to the title game Saturday at Irmo High.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @fortprep