For the third consecutive year, the Indian Land Warriors boys’ soccer team won the 2A Upper State championship, this time beating the fifth-ranked Saluda Tigers 4-0.
The second-ranked Warriors return to the 2A state championship match for the third straight year where they are still looking to claim their first state title in the sport after coming up short last year, losing in triple overtime to Bishop England. In 2012, they lost to Academic Magnet in the state finals.
Indian Land head coach Adam Cole told his team to enjoy the win over Saluda until midnight and then start focusing on the state championship match schedule for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at River Bluff High School. Indian Land will again face Academic Magnet.
“We came in pretty confident,” Cole said. “The kids came through for us. The chemistry is there for our guys. It shows.”
The Warriors had dropped five games all season coming into the match – but all of those were to 4A schools. Saluda entered the game with an 18-1-0 record.
Saluda started off the second half playing more aggressively as the Warriors were knocked around pretty well in the opening two minutes. Saluda controlled possession early, but Indian Land got off a quick shot about four minutes into the second half, which was stopped.
The Warriors’ opportunities didn’t come as easy in the second half, but they were still able to get shots off. Defensively, they stayed just as strong in keeping Saluda out of the box and keeping a protective line between its offense and the goal.
Saluda also had a strong defense in the second half by double and triple teaming the ball.
The Warriors finally got the break they were looking for in the second half as senior Paul Huisenga hit a cross to sophomore Roscoe Lovejoy who put it into the back of the net to give Indian Land a 3-0 lead.
About 12 minutes later, freshman Ryan Albino put the nail in the coffin for the Tigers as he scored the Warriors’ final goal.
In the first half, Indian Land wasted little time, as junior Jordan Szustwal scored on a throw-in just two minutes into the game.
After the initial goal, the Warriors stayed on the attack and controlled possession, taking several shots on goal, within the first 10 minutes.
Szustwal and the Warriors continued to control possession and once he got open again, made the most of it with his second shot on goal, coming from left center of the field into the upper right corner of the goal.
Saluda got its first real shot attempt about 18 minutes into the game on a free kick, but Indian Land keeper Jake Barton gobbled up the attempt.
The Warriors continued to control possession and used their angles to move the ball using the sides of the field to get most of the work done.
Indian Land 4, Saluda 0
IL – Jordan Szustwal, 2:17
IL – Szustwal, 14:29
IL – Roscoe Lovejoy, 65:25
IL – Ryan Albino, 77:00
Shots on goal: Saluda 3, Indian Land 13.
Saves: Sergio Sum (S) 9, Jake Barton (IL) 3.
Corner kicks: Saluda 1, Indian Land 4.
Records: Saluda 18-2-0, Indian Land 20-5-0.