Chapin girls, River Bluff boys win region titles

By Thomas Grant Jr.

Both Chapin High School soccer teams had one mission Tuesday night.

Win their respective matches against River Bluff and sole ownership of the Region 4-5A titles would be the prize at the end of the evening.

The Lady Eagles accomplished their goal with a 2-0 victory over the Lady Gators at Cecil Woolbright Field. It was their third consecutive region title and earned them home-field advantage through the Class 5A playoffs.

They will open the Class 5A playoffs Tuesday at home against Berkeley.

Things went differently in The Swamp for the boys’ soccer team. The Eagles were on the losing end of a 2-0 outcome to River Bluff, who entered the contest with a similar goal.

Winning by the margin of victory necessary to claim the region title only added to the excitement on the Gators’ sidelines. Now retiring head coach Phil Savitz has an opportunity to complete his “farewell tour” without leaving River Bluff’s home stadium before the state finals on May 10 at Memorial Stadium.

“I’m one of those coaches that believes you’ve got to know the scenario,” Savitz said. “I don’t want them to say later ‘If we’d known that, it might have made a difference.’  So I said “Listen. This is the deal. If you win by two, you win the region. If you win and don’t win by two, you’re still in the conversation.’

“And I said ‘The focus isn’t on scoring two goals. The focus is on eliminating the errors we’ve been making the last games that have basically given teams second chances on fouls that weren’t deserved and things like that.’ Eliminating those mistakes and playing cleaner and that’s what they did. Toughness, passion, they played very clean, and they played for each other and those were the four components we were looking for.”

River Bluff took a 1-0 lead nine minutes into the game on a goal by Tripp Bryant off a Jack Dunning assist.

As goalkeeper John Gillfillan kept the Eagles off the scoreboard, the Gators added to their lead one minute and 47 seconds into the second half. This time, it was an unassisted rocket shot off the foot of Logan Watchinski which gave River Bluff the 2-goal cushion needed to clinch the region.

“Once we got the second goal, I knew we had to win. We had to pull together, play as a team and just be confident in our abilities and so we did. We could have had a couple more, but two was all we needed.”

The Gators will open the post-season Monday against either Goose Creek or Cane Bay.

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