As Kevin Heise gathered his Gray Collegiate Academy boys soccer team after the game Saturday, he had one clear message.
“We will be back,” the Gray Collegiate coach said.
Gray Collegiate made it to its second-straight Class 2A championship but ran into juggernaut Oceanside Collegiate and lost 2-0 on Saturday at Irmo High School.
It was Oceanside’s second state championship in boys soccer and completed a 2A sweep for the Landshark soccer programs. Oceanside’s girls defeated private school Christ Church in the 2A girls title match.
The Landsharks boys team finished the season at 14-0-2 and came into the championship game ranked No. 2 in the country in the United Soccer Coaches poll.
“Let’s give credit where credit is due. Oceanside is a heck of a team. We knew that coming in,” Heise said. “They are the best team arguably in all classifications in South Carolina. Statistics tell the story sometime and we knew we had to play an A-plus game and it just wasn’t in the cards.”
Heise hopes a title is in the cards for the future of the program. The longtime coach at Brookland-Cayce who’s now at Gray is one of the state’s all-time winningest coaches with 555 victories — though he’s still seeking his first state championship.
Just a few Gray seniors started Saturday’s match, giving him hope that the War Eagles aren’t done making trips to the state championship.
“We put a lot of effort and time in the program and we ask a lot from the kids,” Heise said. “I think we got a little out-seniored today. We only started three seniors, six sophomores and Oceanside started six or seven seniors. Maybe in a few years we will be that time with six or seven seniors. We just haven’t got the point yet.”
One player who gave the War Eagles optimism for the future was goalkeeper Joey Sullivan, who Heise said played like “an animal.” The sophomore stopped 13 shots as the Landsharks peppered the goal throughout the match.
“I just left everything out there, you know?” Sullivan said. “We knew coming in it was going to be a super tough game, so I just gave 100 percent no matter what the score was. I gave it my all.
“... I know we will be back here next year. The majority of our starting lineups were sophomores, so we are building something special.”
Unfortunately, the War Eagles didn’t create many opportunities on offense to put pressure on Oceanside.
The Landsharks got on the board in the 10th minute on a goal by Isaiah Carmody. Ethan Duncan made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute, and that second goal put a damper the War Eagles’ chances for a comeback.
The shutout was the Landsharks’ 12th in 14 victories this season. Cardinal Newman is the only team that scored on Oceanside since February when the Cards lost to the Landsharks in penalty kicks.
This was the second matchup between the sister charter schools in a state championship this year. Gray Collegiate’s boys basketball team defeated Oceanside in the 2A championship in March.