Heise, Gray Collegiate get another crack at elusive SC state soccer championship

Gray Collegiate boys soccer coach Kevin Heise deadpanned at the end of his postgame interview session after the War Eagles knocked off Greenville Tech 3-0 Monday to capture the Class 2A Upper State championship.

“Is the sixth time a charm?”

Heise and the rest of the War Eagles hope that is the case. Heise is one of the winningest coaches in South Carolina soccer history but he’s yet to claim a state title. This will be his sixth championship game appearance — and third in a row with Gray Collegiate. The War Eagles lost to Christ Church and Oceanside Collegiate in the last two state finals.

Gray Collegiate will have a chance to avenge that loss last year when it faces Oceanside Collegiate Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium in Columbia.

“No matter what happens on Saturday, they’ve had a tremendous year. They’ve overcome a lot of adversity. We’ve probably had more injuries this year that I care to even recollect on,” Heise said. “We have some unfinished business. We get a chance to play Oceanside on Saturday. We’re excited by the opportunity.”

Gray Collegiate (27-5-3) dominated Greenville Tech (14-6-1). The War Eagles recorded their 21st shutout of the season — not counting forfeits by region opponents — behind the stellar play of goalkeeper Joey Sullivan and a talented backline.

Gray Collegiate hasn’t allowed a goal in four postseason matches.

“That backline has been brilliant,” Heise said. “Sullivan got tested tonight and he had to come up with two or three moment changers. Credit that backline, they’ve been warriors all year.”

Ben Richards opened the scoring in the 19th minute when he headed in an assist from Carlos Vasquez for a quick 1-0 lead. It was Richards’ ninth goal of the season.

Roughly five minutes later, Jay Etheredge, a defender who has been pressed into action at midfield due to injuries, added his second goal of the season to make it 2-0 that carried into the half.

“Those were created goals,” Heise said. “These were things we worked on and emphasized.”

If there was any doubt remaining, Nathan Hernandez ended it with a goal in the 47th minute for the final tally. It was the third goal of the year for Hernandez. Heise was able to substitute freely for the remainder of the match.

Now the War Eagles have a rematch that Heise has been thinking about since he walked into the locker room after last season’s loss to Oceanside Collegiate.

“When we got to the locker room last year, I was like let’s get back and see what happens,” Heise said. “We’ve had other guys that had to step up all year. We will be ready to roll on Saturday.”

Monday’s playoff scores


Class 5A

Lexington 2, Spartanburg 1

Boiling Springs at Dutch Fork, ppd., to Tuesday

Blythewood at Dorman, ppd., to Tuesday

Conway at Chapin

River Bluff at Ashley Ridge, ppd., to Tuesday

Class 3A

Brookland-Cayce at Marlboro County, ppd., to Tuesday

Beaufort 5, Gilbert 3, susp., 5th inning, will finish Tuesday

Camden 2, Loris 1 (10)

Dreher at Hanahan

Class 2A

Landrum 7, Pelion 6

Batesburg-Leesville 6, Saluda 0

North Central at Andrews, ppd., to Tuesday


Class 5A

Dutch Fork at Gaffney, ppd., to Tuesday

Blythewood at Hillcrest

Cane Bay at Chapin, ppd., to Tuesday

Class 4A

Airport at Catawba Ridge, ppd., to Tuesday

Class 3A

Lake City at Swansea, ppd., to to Tuesday

Camden 6, Battery Creek 2

Dreher at Marlboro County

Class 2A

Batesburg-Leesville at Blacksburg

Mid-Carolina at Landrum

Pelion at Ninety-Six

Girls Soccer

SCISA Class 4A

Hammond 4, First Baptist 0

Ben Lippen at Porter-Gaud

Heathwood Hall at Pinewood Prep

Cardinal Newman 1, Ashley Hall 0

Boys Golf

Class 5A Lower State: Lexington won the Lower State by nine shots. The Wildcats shot a 305. Conway finished second. River Bluff’s Nathanael Caughman (81) qualified as an individual.

Class 5A Upper State: Chapin qualified for the state tournament with a sixth-place finish. The Eagles shot 301. Blythewood’s Jordan Hardy (74) qualified as an individual after winning a five-hole playoff for final spot.

Class 4A Lower State: AC Flora ran away with the 4A Lower State championship, winning by 23 shots. The Falcons shot a 271. Lugoff-Elgin (302) qualified after finishing fifth. Westwood seventh-grader Connor Wolfe qualified as an individual after shooting a 69.

Class 3A Lower State: Gilbert (309) finished second to lead Midlands teams at 3A Lower State. Brookland-Cayce (330), Dreher (331) and Camden also finished in the top eight to qualify for next week’s state tournament.