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INDIAN LAND – The Indian Land High soccer team is back, hoping to finish at the front of Class AA boys soccer.
The Warriors are returning to the Class AA state championship soccer match in hopes of a first-ever state soccer championship.
The 19-4 Warriors built a 2-0 halftime lead and added a second-half goal to capture their second straight Class AA Upper State championship with a solid 3-0 win over Ninety Six High on Tuesday, May 14.
The Warriors, the 2012 state runners-up, will face Class AA Lower State champion Bishop England at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18 at Gilbert High School.
Bishop England, 16-7-1, edged defending state champion Academic Magnet for the Lower State title, prevailing 3-1 in penalty kicks for a 1-0 win.
Indian Land, with its second postseason shutout, blanked the 20-4 Wildcats, 3-0 at IL’s Warrior Stadium.
A pair of Indian Land goals within a five-minute span in the first half lifted the Warriors to the 2-0 lead.
”We wanted to come out and establish ourselves,” IL coach Adam Cole said.
“Those early goals were a big boost. Scoring quick was a key. We knew we would have opportunities, but we had to take advantage of them.”
The Warriors broke on top as IL senior Anthony Cutrone tallied on a penalty kick following an intentional handball.
Senior Nick Retter put the Warriors up, 2-0 with a goal off a pass from Eric Sandor.
“Those two goals early were big for them,” Ninety Six coach Ben Brown said. “They just beat us to the ball. We struggled some early, but played better in the second half.”
In the second half, IL freshman Garrett Gerdes scored off a long cross from senior Will Medlock.
The Warriors had other chances to score in the final 40 minutes, keeping pressure on the Wildcats’ goal, but the three-goal cushion was more than enough.
The Indian Land defense, which has allowed only one goal in postseason play, protected the IL lead for the win and bid to the state title match.
“Our defense is what got us here,” Cole said. “They have been outstanding.”
Indian Land High School senior keeper Trevor Hoxworth posted his 13th shutout with seven saves on the night.
“Our defense was tremendous, but so were our fans,” Cole said. “They provided a great atmosphere here today.
“Their enthusiasm and support motivated us to bring our ‘A’ game and give it our best shot. We were pumped to play well.”
Cole said the defensive effort was the difference.
“They have a player, Grant Dickey who has 99 career goals, 57 this season, but we shut him down, which we knew we had to do,” Cole said of Dickey, who posted the winning goal in Ninety Six’s 5-4 win over Andrew Jackson High School in the Class AA Upper State soccer semifinals on Saturday, May 11. “Hats off to our defense.”
Cole is confident of the Warriors, who have won seven of their last eight matches, including six straight.
“They know they have the potential and the talent, but we have to go out and prove it,” Cole said. “We will work on our ball movement and finishing.”
Brown, who saw his club make its first-ever Class AA Upper State final, said the Warriors are impressive.
“They’re an excellent team,” Brown said.