Unlikely hero helps Chapin girls soccer advance to state championship game

Chapin girls soccer coach Chad Bridges stood to the side as he watched his Eagles celebrate near midfield after a stunning 1-0 overtime victory over West Ashley in the Class 5A lower state championship.

Bridges rubbed his face like he was still in amazement, maybe fighting back some tears.

Bridges just watched unlikely hero freshman Elizabeth Kujawa score in the 97th minute to send Chapin to its first state championship game appearance since 2017. The Eagles will face Clover, a 2-0 winner over JL Mann, in the state title match at 1 p.m. on Friday at Columbia’s Memorial Stadium.

“Three minutes left in overtime, we got a good, lucky bounce,” Bridges said. “That was just Liz’s second goal of the season. She’s a freshman that has only started two games.

“We basically got a deflection clearance that went right into the goal. It was almost surreal. I was like, did that really happen? So many other chances that we had but balls were misplayed or played too heavy.”

Kujawa was forced into a starting role against three-time defending champion Wando in the third round and played well against the Warriors and again Tuesday night against the Wildcats.

When the moment came, Kujawa was prepared. The ball was around the 20-yard mark, and it looked like the West Ashley defender would clear it but Kujawa came charging in, and as both players tried to kick it. The ball bounced off the Wildcats defenders head and into an empty net.

Kujawa was quickly surrounded by her teammates for the celebration.

“Honestly, Grace (Benson) kicked the ball, and the defender got it and I just sort of ran through it and hit it,” the freshman said. “I felt like I was about to cry. It was amazing, I loved it a lot.”

Chapin goalkeeper Olivia Bradley had to make a save in the second OT that kept the game scoreless. And defensively, the Eagles matched the few chances West Ashley (14-6-3) had. The Eagles had to finish off the final three minutes and did so controlling the ball most of the time.

Getting over the albatross that was Wando High was a huge confidence builder for Chapin (23-2-2). The Eagles were not in the preseason top 10 rankings and have that poll mounted in the locker room as extra motivation.

They lost two years ago, then lost to Wando in the postseason. When they returned to Mount Pleasant on Saturday, they had a quiet confidence about themselves despite the fact Wando hadn’t lost a home match in eight years. They won that 1-0 and now will look to win their first state title since 2016.

“A lot of those freshmen and sophomores (two years ago against Wando) we had are now juniors and seniors,” Bridges said. “We were confident going down there we could win that game. Preseason not ranked in top 10. It’s up in our locker room. There’s a little motivation there for this team to complete the job.”

Tuesday’s Midlands playoff scores


Class 5A

Dutch Fork 10, Fort Mill 6

Dorman 11, Blythewood 3

West Ashley 3, Chapin 0

Class 3A

Hanahan 10, Dreher 9

Brookland-Cayce 12, Dreher 1

Class 2A

Mid-Carolina 8, Landrum 2

Gray Collegiate 6, Batesburg-Leesville 2

Andrews 2, North Central 1


Class 5A

Gaffney 5, Dutch Fork 4 (8)

Blythewood 9, Hillcrest 8

Chapin 5, Cane Bay 2

Class 4A

Catawba Ridge 12, Airport 0

Class 3A

Swansea 12, Lake City 4

Marlboro County 10, Dreher 0

Class 2A

Mid-Carolina at Landrum


Class 5A Girls

Chapin 1, West Ashley 0

Class 3A Girls

Waccamaw 7, Camden 3


Cardinal Newman 8, Laurence Manning 1

Heathwood Hall 1, Trinity Collegiate 0

Ben Lippen 3, Porter-Gaud 2

Hammond 9, Camden Military 1