The Bluffton boys’ soccer team avenged a prior loss to Fort Dorchester Friday to help knot up the Region 8-AAAA standings.
The Patriots had won five straight region games to move into first place for the region but Friday’s 2-1 loss to the Bobcats left Ashley Ridge, Bluffton, Fort Dorchester and Summerville all with a 6-3 region record and tied going into the final night of region play.
“We just made the knot tighter,” Bluffton coach Josh Fox said. “We had never beat these boys so we talked about that all week. This is the fourth time we’ve played them and they got us the first three times. One of our goals is to be at home for the playoffs so I just asked them to not get out worked tonight and they responded.”
The game was scoreless for more than a half. Finally, with just under 17 minutes remaining, Fort Dorchester broke the tie. Koh Matsumoto was fouled and that gave the Patriots a free kick from just outside the box. Clay Mahlie sent the kick right to the front of the goal and Reid Couch laid out and headed the ball into the net for what fans thought would be the game-winning goal.
However, Bluffton needed only 30 seconds to answer. The Bobcats quickly worked the ball into the box and then Davis Rosenbloom sent a shot into the net for a 1-1 tie.
Both teams created scoring opportunities in the following minutes but it wasn’t until past the 10-minute remaining mark that either scored.
Bluffton was awarded a free kick from just outside the box and Miguel Jiminize sent the kick into the right corner of the net for the 2-1 Bobcat advantage.
Mathew Hardin made a powerful sidekick late in the game that put the Patriot fans on the edge of their seat, but the shot sailed just over the crossbar.
Despite the loss, Fort Dorchester coach Chris Jones said he liked his team’s effort.
“I’m proud of my team,” Jones said. “We’ve been talking about doing your best every game and leaving everything on the field so you can leave with your head held high.
Tonight they did that. You could tell when they came off the field they were disappointed with the outcome but they felt good. I’m happy that we achieved that level of play. Where going to need that moving forward and I think we are in a good position to do some good things.”
Playoff seeding for the region’s top four teams all came down to games played Tuesday night after press time. Ashley Ridge played Colleton County and Bluffton faced Beaufort. Fort Dorchester wrapped up its schedule with a game against Summerville.
The Patriots carried a 13-5-1 overall record into that game.